Careers Champion: Working Adviser meets finalist Mark Willet
In a series of mini-blogs to mark the sixth Careers Champion award, Working Adviser gets to know finalist Mark Willet – Job Club Manager at King’s Church CAP, Penwortham.
WA: Tell us a bit about your background and current Careers role.
MW: I have worked in the Careers Service Sector for almost 40 years, I completed my training as a Careers Adviser in Bristol and then worked as a careers adviser in schools and colleges. 1997 I moved into Adult Guidance managing adult services across Lancashire. In 2011 I was a casualty of the down turn in the careers service and made redundant. After completing a MA in Social Enterprise Management, I applied my careers guidance and management experience to establish a community based work club in Penwortham to meet the needs of local residents who were experiencing unemployment. Recruiting and training volunteers I developed a team who shared the same values and compassion for long term unemployed. In 2012 the club partnered with Christians against Poverty (CAP) and was the first Job Club in Lancashire ( there are now 170 across the country.)
In 2014 I helped a church in neighbouring area develop their own Job Club and managed both operations until 2016. The two sites have helped over 300 residents make steps back to employment. Since partnering with CAP I have delivered 12 employability courses alongside job coaching and careers guidance to support job seekers. I retrained as Morrisby Profile adviser and I offer free consultancy to job seekers who attend the club.
WA: What is the most rewarding part of working in Careers?
MW: I love volunteering as Job Club Manager and Job Coach at the Job Club which meets every Thursday , offering a supportive community environment , access to a network of laptops, printers, wifi and careers and employability resources.I have the opportunity to use my skills to provide individual job and career coaching and a deliver a 7 session employability course.
Leading a team of 8 volunteers who are so passionate about making a difference is really rewarding. The average length unemployment of CAP clients is over 2 years , but at the Job Club we often see referral of people over 5 years, over 60% of all members go into paid work, work experience and/or training. It’s been amazing to see lives transformed, and the impact it’s made on the local community. Last week one of job club members who had been not been unemployed for 13 years secured employment, that was a special moment
WA: How is Careers work changing and what does the future hold?
MW: I am very committed to the value placed on clients developing employability skills alongside the individual one to one IAG. Whether it’s with long term unemployed or students in school and college acquiring these skills are critical in the decision making process. I do some consultancy work each year in a HE College and I am dismayed that students seem to lack the career planning/employability skills, with a lack of resources being provided.
Despite unemployment falling, I have seen an increase in referrals from Job Centre especially more vulnerable clients, I see careers guidance and coaching at the heart of the work I do but recognise that some of our club members need wrap around services addressing a range of issues.
I have campaigned to my local MP to restore resources for careers work in schools, but I am concerned provision and quality is patchy. I welcome the new quality standard for CEAG but without additional resources, sadly I don’t see big improvements, with current and future generations not receiving the service they deserve.
WA: Finally, what was your reaction when you were confirmed as a Careers Champion finalist?
MW: Really surprised , as a volunteer at Job Club it was brilliant to be recognised for the work I do. If successful the prize will be used to provide resources for the club, so we can purchase some new lap tops for our clients to use for job search, to continue to offer Morrisby Profile free for our clients will be wonderful. To invest in some additional resources that the the team and myself can use would be brilliant. Finally recognising the role of volunteers working in the careers sector would be pretty good too!