Long-term unemployed people in the Liverpool city region are being given free computer equipment and digital skills training to help them back into work. Tony McDonough reports
More than 100 long-term unemployed people in the Liverpool city region are being provided with computers and digital skills training to help them back into work.
Developed in partnership between Jobcentre Plus and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Households into Work programme, the scheme is being delivered by Pathways to Work with funding from the DWP’s Flexible Support Fund.
People taking part in the project receive a desktop computer or laptop, free internet access for two months, along with a computer desk and chair set up for them in their home.
Running until March 2021, the programme sees participants undertake a Level One course in Internet Safety for IT Users. Upon completion of an assessment they are allowed to keep all of the equipment they have been given.
The assessment is normally taken in a classroom, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, Pathways to Work is radically changing the way they conduct the 20 minute multiple choice assessment.
An 18-seater bus has been converted so that trainers can travel to the homes of people who are unable to come to them, giving the option to take the assessment on board. Households into Work has supported more than 1,600 people over the last three years.
With a team of 25 advocates based in all six Liverpool city region local authority areas, they work with disenfranchised, long-term unemployed people who, because of their circumstances, have difficulty finding and sustaining employment.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “When I was elected I pledged to drive towards making the city region the most digitally inclusive place in the UK. The pandemic has shown us even more strongly just how essential technology is in connecting us to work, learn and access entertainment.
“A lack of digital skills and IT equipment is a major barrier holding talented people back, especially now when we are more reliant than ever on technology to access services and job opportunities, as well as keeping in touch with each other.
“That’s why during the first lockdown we funded a number of schemes tackling digital exclusion through LCR Cares and that’s why we are backing this scheme now.”
One participant, Lucy from, has taken Knowsley her Level 1 assessment on the bus in the last few days. She said: “The computer is allowing me to complete online courses which are going to help me back into the workplace and to be able to have the bus come practically to your door to be able to take the assessment in a Covid safe setting is brilliant. It’s really made a difference to me.”
Pathways to Work is running until March 2021. For more information on the Households into Work programme click here.