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Digital skills

Catch22 responds to call for evidence on “Digital Skills for Employment and Safeguarding the Future Workforce”

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, taken from across the River Thames. Overlaid is text that reads: "Consultation Response".

Catch22 is a social business: a not-for-profit business with a social mission. For over 200 years we have designed and delivered public services that build resilience and aspiration in people of all ages and within communities across the UK.

Our work in digital skills includes partnerships with Microsoft, Google.org, Salesforce and others to upskill disadvantaged people and provide access digital careers. This forms part of our broader employability vision to tackle systemic inequality. We also work with young people and families in trouble, delivering intervention and response services across child sexual and criminal exploitation, gang involvement, mental health support, family and social care services.

Thinking of how your organisation adapted to work during the pandemic, will you be taking any of the practices you have changed or learned over the past 18 months forward?

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work – from delivering training programmes and apprenticeships remotely to supporting our staff in prisons and alternative provision schools, all while keeping our head office closed – our organisation has adapted quickly and effectively throughout the last 16 months. We’ve still placed more than 500 individuals into work, supported over 120,000 people to lead better lives, and worked with 80 employers to support 400 apprentices.

Remote digital access for our staff has improved organisation-wide engagement, enabled us to improve our flexible working offer, and made our e-learning offers more accessible. Our induction events, now digital, enable staff to meet colleagues from across the organisation and learn about the range of other services that Catch22 runs, without the need for high transport costs, and the limits to location.

Apprenticeships: All our training and assessments are now being done digitally which is proving a real success. Employers are more aware of just how intense apprenticeships can be as they’re sitting in on presentations and assessments. Apprentices are also benefiting from more face time with tutors. We’re also tailoring modules to fit the current climate; including covering topics such as handling angry or difficult customers and managing expectations.

Remote Education: Catch22 runs five independent alternative provision schools and seven as part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT). We also run nine Colleges, offering learning and training opportunities for students who, for whatever reason, don’t want to stay in a traditional academic environment, or who were excluded. Catch22 delivered learning both within our schools and colleges but also via digital means. Microsoft Teams allowed our schools to adapt.

Upskilling service users:

Digital Edge, in partnership with Microsoft UK, and Digital Leap, in partnership with Salesforce, are four-week pre-apprenticeship training programmes to support young people from underserved communities access digital apprenticeships with local employers. Training continued remotely and work placements were able to start remotely throughout the pandemic.

The Social Switch Project, in collaboration with Redthread, and funded by the Mayor of London’s VRU and Google.org, opens up digital career opportunities for the most at- risk young people in London and trains frontline professionals to talk to young people about social media usage. Unable to have 50 professionals in one room holding robust discussions, nor being able to offer full-time courses to young people on site, the programme has continued delivery throughout the pandemic virtually. Smaller groups were hosted, but the team have still trained more than 1000 frontline professionals and upskilled more than 70 young people – focusing on shorter, more intense training sessions.

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