Get the help you need
With job losses continuing across the oil and gas sector, the focus is understandably on the support that’s available for people facing redundancy.
The Scottish Government’s initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace), offers guidance and advice from a range of key agencies aimed at helping people to take the next steps post redundancy.
But the service also has a great deal to offer employers faced with downsizing their workforce, helping them navigate the process and ensuring employees are given the help they need.
Heather Milne works for Skills Development Scotland (SDS) – the organisation that leads the delivery of Pace support in conjunction with a number of partners, including the Department for Work and Pensions, with a remit focused on the oil and gas industry. She is urging employers to make best use of the free Pace services available, both for their benefit and their employees.
“The best service we can offer is when employers are prepared to engage with us, to get an overview of the service and agree how we can engage directly with employees,” she said.
“Recently we dealt with one employer making a large-scale redundancy and I delivered a number of presentations outlining the Pace services available. This was followed up with on-site CV workshops. Having the opportunity to speak to those affected face-to-face and to signpost the help that’s available is very useful.
“That could be money advice, information on the Transition Training Fund or information on any applicable benefit entitlements from JobCentre Plus.”
Based in Aberdeen as part of the Pace team within SDS, Heather proactively contacts employers after receiving notification from the government about potential redundancies, and also reacts to media reports about job cuts.
The key is to work with employers and establish face-to-face contact with employees threatened with redundancy so they can receive early information and can ask questions about the help available.
“We’ve been rolling out various workshops such as CV help sessions as well as Transition Training Fund question-and-answer sessions, which help people gather the information they need to make an application,” Heather said.
“For a lot of organisations, they are now going through their second, third or even fourth round of redundancies, so they are more aware of the support available from Pace and the value that can be gained from engaging with the services.
“Offering that support to staff facing redundancy is obviously important for the individuals affected as they’re getting the best possible information, but it’s important for the employer as well, and can help maintain workforce morale as much as possible during very difficult circumstances.
“A lot of companies who would previously have offered outplacement support when making redundancies no longer have the resources to do that, and so there is a greater requirement for the professional, free service that Pace offers.”
For the individuals receiving Pace support, facing redundancy is only the start of what can be a difficult and traumatic process, but Heather says the help that’s available is welcome, with people recognising the value of it, often when they are back in employment.
She added: “We can provide a lot of support and signpost people to various services, but ultimately we recognise that for a lot of individuals, their main, pressing aim is to find a job. And it’s often only further down the line, after our intervention, when people are back in employment that they realise the full value of that support.
“That might be identifying transferable skills. It could be the chance to look at a change in career direction or it could be support through the Transition Training Fund. It’s about providing stepping stones that will help people make the journey back into employment.
“So I’d encourage employers as much as possible to engage with Pace and offer access to employees. It brings benefits for an employer’s point of view as well as employees who are at risk of redundancy.”
To find out more about the support offered by Pace visit www.redundancyscotland.co.uk or call 0800 917 8000 to speak to an adviser.