Housing bosses run Skillsmatch course in East End to get tenants back into work

Bernadine Watts

Bernadine Watts - Credit: Old Ford Housing

A housing organisation is running a skills course to help its tenants in London’s deprived East End into careers.

Old Ford Housing has helped 50 people get jobs since it began a partnership at the beginning of the year with Skillsmatch, a new job brokerage service run by Tower Hamlets Council.

The course teaches “employability” skills such as computers and experiencing a working environment.

One tenant who has had her career prospects improved with help from the team at Eastside youth centre in Bow is Bernadine Watts, 35, who had taken time out to bring up a young family.

“It had been at least 10 years since I had used the basic IT packages like Excel and Word,” Bernadine explains. “So it was really helpful to refresh those skills.

“I also got help with my CV and learnt key interview techniques, which boosted my confidence and got me into an apprenticeship.”

Bernadine has already completed IT qualifications such as OCR Level 1 and a European computer driving licence.

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Now she has started volunteering with Circle Housing Old Ford’s community development and customer service teams to experience a busy working environment.

Skillsmatch is a service where people identify and potentially secure jobs that match their skills. It is funded by Tower Hamlets council to given them an open door to roles which would have otherwise been closed—from administrative to hospitality positions.

Bernadine has managed to get an apprenticeship at another housing association as a monitoring assistant.

“What is also great is the flexibility of the courses, which is important with a young family,” she adds. “I was able to fit in sessions here and there, while my son was at playgroup.”

Bernadine now feels confident she’ll get a permanent job and be financially secure in the future for her young family.