Removing employment barriers for rewarding school-sector careers
Monarch Education is a recruitment agency based in Birmingham that specialises in providing teaching and support staff to schools across the country. It is part of one of the largest privately owned public service recruitment specialists in the UK.
Previously, Monarch recruited through online jobs boards and search portals to find suitable staff for schools. However, after working with Jobcentre Plus it became apparent that there was a potential talent pool being missed. Individuals who opted for traditional face-to-face support were not being recruited via online channels.
Targeting these individuals became the catalyst for shifting to using Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs). These free/subsidised short-term training initiatives are administered by Jobcentre Plus. Over the course of up to six weeks, SWAP support employers, local job seekers, and the regional economy.
Why choose a SWAP?
The fast-track SWAP programme is an effective way to rejuvenate workforces and plugs future skills gaps with fresh talent. It also supports unemployed local people in areas of work they may never have previously considered. Natasha Shannon, Divisional Manager for Support Services at Monarch Education, explained:
“We heard of SWAPs through our contact at Jobcentre Plus. She mentioned them as a great option, especially for long-term unemployed who don’t have references and were often stuck in the system. We discussed what Monarch Education wanted and designed the SWAP to our sector needs with the help of training provider PET-Xi Training Ltd.
“Our previous provider hadn’t spent enough time learning about Monarch’s needs. The vetting and risk assessments weren’t thorough enough, resulting in unsuitable candidates who couldn’t be placed too far along in the process. It was wasting resources and resulting in lower completion rates that could have been avoided for us and the candidates.
“Pet -Xi were a company I was aware of as they had supported us with some tutoring in the past. When the relationship with our old provider concluded, we needed a quick and reliable alternative with education sector experience. Pet-Xi seemed a natural fit, so we met and talked about how they could get clients employment-ready. There was lots of flexibility and they really catered to our needs.”
Getting candidates job-ready
By using SWAP, Monarch can now ensure clients are employable for schools that are recruiting. Individuals are thoroughly vetted and compliant, have references, complete safeguard training, have DBS fees covered, learn about various roles available through Monarch, and are all job ready. Natasha continued:
“Now, Jobcentre Plus run a hotline followed by a group information session, run jointly with us. This works well. PET-Xi talks about training and I explain about job opportunities to get buy in. Those who engage can sign up and Jobcentre Plus then discuss the need for a commitment to work. Our yield of candidates in non-teaching roles has increased by around 25% as a result of running SWAPs.
“Our needs have absolutely been met through SWAPs. We needed more recruits that were job-ready
and trained from being in the Jobcentre environment, and SWAPs delivered this. Our experience with PET-Xi is also very positive and we will continue to use them. They are very professional and willing to go over and above. Anything we ask, they’re always happy to help with, so we’re really happy.”
Around 80% of Monarch recruits who attended the SWAP training move onto work, as they have everything they need to go straight into a school. Others who need further support spend time with a jobs coach looking at barriers to work. A hybrid SWAP was recently created incorporating ESOL skills specifically for a cohort of Ukranian women with teaching backgrounds. All nine gained trials in schools and three gained employment.
Achieving amazing results
Natasha concluded: “My advice to other employers considering SWAPs is simply what are you waiting for?! We’ve has some amazing people come through SWAPs. After Covid, many people found themselves back at the Jobcentre after years of being employed but can have barriers to work such as personal circumstance or childcare issues. For us, SWAPs are great stepping-stones that give individuals purpose and the confidence to progress to a role with longer hours.”
Monarch Education is now looking at the SWAP model as part of expansion plans in other areas after the success in Birmingham city centre. This not only includes the Black Country (West Bromwich, Dudley, Walsall) and into Coventry, but has potential for sites in Bristol, Peterborough, and Romford.
To find out more about how Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAP) could benefit your organisation, contact: