Courses across the county support the unemployed

Friday, 12 February 2010

Free courses are now available across the county for people who are unemployed (or at risk of unemployment) to help get them back to work, self employment or into training.

Free courses are now available across the county for people who are unemployed (or at risk of unemployment) to help get them back to work, self employment or into training. Oxford Brookes University, with partners from across Oxfordshire, has pledged a £110,000 package to address training needs of unemployed people in disadvantaged areas. Seventy four courses are scheduled to take place before the end of 2010 so far, with more in the pipeline.

The investment is part of Brookes' successful bid for funds from the Economic Challenge Investment Fund (ECIF) aimed at addressing economic need in the region.

Course topics include job search courses and interview training as well as community leadership and volunteering to build up transferable skills. IT courses are available at Northway Community Centre and Blackbird Leys IT Zone (Blitz) which are running forty courses at all levels. Specific courses are provided in community journalism with the Leys News, craft skills and marketing at the Rainbow Venue in Banbury and health and beauty at Barton Community Centre which provide a springboard for further courses in this field.

The courses address needs where they arise with partners bidding to fund courses for which there is demand. They range from a few hours to several sessions over a number of weeks and while some are basic skill courses aimed at boosting confidence, others provide degree-level modules which build on existing abilities. In response, for example, to requests from motorsport technicians made redundant in the last nine months, Oxford and Cherwell Valley College will be offering a module in motorsports composites from the motorsport foundation degree run in partnership with Oxford Brookes University.

Ingrid Widdows, Academic Project Leader at Oxford Brookes, commented: 'We go out into the community and ask people what courses they want and need rather than what we think they may need. We are truly working in partnership with other local providers to support those looking for jobs in these difficult times. Because most programmes are taught in venues located in the communities, they are easily accessible.'

Kate Martin of Banbury, a student on the 'Get Work Ready the Creative Way' course at the Rainbow Centre in Banbury, commented: 'The course is great. It caters for people who don't normally go on courses. It is creative and fun and has given me the confidence to be more enterprising'.

Fellow student Emma Atkins of Banbury agreed. 'Courses like this are needed. It brings out your creative streak. It is great to get together as a group and it really broadens your horizons', she said.

Ahmed Rahman of Oxford took the 'Black and Minority Ethnic Resident Community Research' course in conjunction with SOHA housing and through this is now conducting research with the housing association to determine customer needs as well as seeking to develop a community based multimedia project .

Ahmed who has an M.A. in Electronic Media from Oxford Brookes and considerable talents in computer skills and design is now employed as manager and tutor of the IT centre based at Northway Community Centre. After spells of unemployment in the past year, his experience and expertise is now being put to good use by Oxford Brookes to run computer courses funded by the University. He commented: 'These courses are excellent. They extend the role of the university because instead of waiting for people to come to them, the university is reaching out to help them reshape their knowledge and skills at a time when they need it'.

The initiative builds on Brookes' role in the local strategic partnerships which map the needs of the community. Members help raise aspirations and encourage economic involvement.

Richard Huggins, Associate Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Law at Oxford Brookes said: 'This project not only helps individuals to get back into work or training with all the personal benefits that brings but by working with more partners in Oxfordshire we can build on these relationships and develop new opportunities for the community in the future.'

Brookes' eleven partners who submitted successful proposals for funding are Oxfordshire County Council; The Sunshine Centre, Banbury; The Rainbow Venue, Banbury; The Ethnic Minority Business Service, Oxford; Oxford and Cherwell Valley College; Ruskin College; Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action; Blitz Community Interest Company, Blackbird Leys; Leys News Ltd.; Barrack Social Enterprise, Barton Neighbourhood Centre; Northway Community Association. The university is in negotiation with a further six partners.

For further information about courses contact Peter Knipp at or on 01865 484886.

ECIF funding is also available to support businesses with a raft of measures including online courses and consultancy packages. For more information on ECIF support email