Inspira: the invaluable service upskilling Lancashire to combat a once-in-a-lifetime employment crisis

Thanks to a combination of factors, the jobs market in Lancashire at the moment is existing in something of a unique state. The Covid pandemic, war in Ukraine, and inflation are all taking a toll, direct or indirect. Thankfully, Inspira is on hand to help.

By Jack Marshall
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 4:55 am
Mark Bowman, Chief Executive of Inspira (Copyright Stuart Walker Photography 2022)
Mark Bowman, Chief Executive of Inspira (Copyright Stuart Walker Photography 2022)

The North West’s leading skills and employability charity, Inspira currently helps more than 8,000 people a year in Lancashire alone, offering free professional careers advice and guidance to help people develop the skills they need to secure better employment.

The charity also works with employers, councils, and a range of organisations across the North West to solve local skills shortages, invest in young people, and help reduce unemployment. In such uniquely challenging times, they’ve never been more important.

“The pressure for people to find well-paid employment and sometimes second jobs and the pressures employers are facing to recruit and retain staff is causing a unique situation,” says Inspira’s Chief Executive Mark Bowman. “It’s certainly not a situation I have encountered in over 25 years working in careers and employability.

Inspira clients completing security course

“Many employers have had a difficult time recruiting staff as we have emerged from the pandemic,” he adds. “Many people have re-evaluated working lives and working practices in many organisations have changed. We need to do everything we can to nurture the talent that we have available.”

With the UK having celebrated Employability Day late last month, Inspira were keen to use the spotlight to emphasise how crucial their work is in making sure the workforce of the future is prepared and fully supported for what may come. And, what’s more, they get results.

Just one of Inspira’s initiatives, named The Key, saw 2,114 unemployed people engage with the programme, 608 of whom have gained employment as a result of the support and qualifications available.

“As a charity, Inspira is unique, delivering a wide range of programmes to help make people ready for work and give them more of a chance to succeed whether that is at the start of careers or further on in the career path,” says Mark. “Even though unemployment is relatively low, people who haven’t been in work for a while need significant support.

Inspira adviser with client

“These are often ‘hidden unemployed’, those who are not working but don’t show in unemployment figures due to a variety of reasons, often health-related,” he adds. “Helping this group to contribute to the economy requires significant, and often specialist, support.

“For individuals, for whatever reason, who have a period of unemployment or who have not worked for some time, gaining the confidence, skills, and motivation can be difficult,” continues Mark. “Our approach of providing such work-ready skills and then, crucially, matching individuals with employers who have real-time vacancies is incredibly successful.

“We’re really proud of the impact it has,” he says. “It’s vital that this type of work continues. Businesses, organisations, individuals of all ages and all backgrounds, the UK economy, and charities like Inspira depend on it.

“The recruitment issues we are seeing today will only be the tip of the iceberg without it.”

Lauren Jackson, Inspira Senior Adviser, with a client