Covid-19 Series. A day in the life of Employment Advisor Jonathan Scott-Laws during lockdown.
Jon has been a Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) Employment Advisor since April 2019. Jon supports referrals from the NHS veteran mental health team in Essex. The Essex NHS team is one third of the Midlands & East Veterans Service (MEVS), within the nationwide Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS).
Jon delivers to the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) method. In November 2018 our Essex IPS service was independently reviewed by the Centre for Mental Health and awarded IPS Centre of Excellence status.
Jon, how would you describe your role?
I am embedded within the NHS TILS team to support ex-service men and women into employment. As an IPS Employment Advisor I support my service users by helping to build confidence, organise work placements, source funding for any required training and ultimately assist in securing sustainable employment.
With the IPS method we begin the job search quite quickly, because finding employment for people who want to work improves their quality of life and wellbeing, and leads to better health outcomes. The service is available to any ex-service person who wants to work; wanting to work is the only inclusion criteria.
What does an average day look like for you?
Every service user is after something different. My job is to support them with their employment journey by enhancing their employability skills such as updating their CV or supporting with job searching. Once we establish what career path they are after I will see if they need any training to give them a better chance of that career path. I will apply for jobs with them and I also cold call local companies to see if I can place them for a job interview.
When they secure a job interview, I help prepare them with interview skills. Once they are successful in gaining employment, I provide in-work support, which is likely to involve weekly contact via a phone or Skype call.
How have you adapted your employment sessions in light of restrictions brought about by coronavirus?
Since the lockdown I don’t travel as much, so have more time in the day speaking to my ex-service personnel. I work remotely so the lockdown restrictions doesn’t have a huge effect on my working day; the only thing I miss is the face to face interaction with my clients
What's the greatest challenge?
I would say that it is when I am successful in supporting a client to secure a job interview, and then they fail to attend. As an IPS Employment Advisor you are not doing a general job search; you are tailoring the job search to the service users’ wants and needs; which is time consuming and intensive. It also involves developing strong relationships with employers, which can be damaged if a client fails to attend an interview.
But, I understand that my clients often have complex and multiple needs, which can cause last minute issues, which result in missed interviews.
Are you finding that employers are still looking to recruit during this period? If so, where have you found employment opportunities?
When I do my employment engagement I still find job vacancies being advertised however there isn’t as many as there was before the lockdown which is to be expected. The care and retail sector are booming however some of the other industries have taken a hit with the coronavirus. Since the lockdown I have placed my clients in security, care and driving work and a portion of my clients have had telephone interviews and zoom interviews.
What's the best bit of the job?
Being there for the service users’ journey; from day one where I have the initial meeting with them and create a vocational profile and action plan, to them starting work. You’re not only getting a service user in to work but you are improving their mental state, wellbeing and social life. The family of the service user will be able to see the mental health improvement once their partner is in work which improves the lives of those around them.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
I am a target driven person, so hitting my yearly targets within six months has been a good achievement for me!
What would you like to achieve in the role in the future?
To carry on achieving great results with my clients using the IPS model of support, so that when the time comes for us to be re-reviewed, we keep our Centre of Excellence award in Essex. One day I’d like to see the service expanded so we can support more veterans and perhaps have my own team of IPS Employment Advisors.
To find out more about WWTW’s employment service, contact firstname.lastname@example.org