A charity that helps islanders with disabilities into employment has voiced concerns that vulnerable jobseekers might be overlooked as the local employment landscape changes due to the pandemic.
The Jersey Employment Trust (JET) is now calling out to businesses to give some of their young clients with a disability or health condition a chance.
JET has a service which helps young people, who have a disability or long-term health condition and are aged between 14 and 21, to transition successfully from education to the world of work.
Its 14-21 Service currently supports 44 young people, the majority whom have mental health issues, while other clients may be on the autism spectrum, or have a learning or physical disability.
At a time when students are usually looking forward to their summer jobs and planning what they will be doing come September, the head of the service, Simon Jones, is reminding islanders that the charity's clients depend on securing some unpaid work experience to "develop their skills, learn what work suits them, and demonstrate their employability".
Pictured: Simon Jones, head of the 14-21 Service.
Unfortunately, with covid-19 having changed the employment landscape, opportunities are rare and the 14-21 Service currently has 15 new referrals pending.
"With employers streamlining their workforces, and offices undergoing significant changes in how they operate, with more people working from home, unpaid work placements will be harder to come by," Mr Jones said.
"Generally speaking, life in lockdown has been ok for our clients. Much of their interaction with peers is online and they have kept themselves safe.
"The real issue is going to be to get them motivated again. It is a particularly tough time, especially with Covid-19 pushing unemployment levels up."
According to Statistics Jersey, 2,670 people were actively seeking work by 24 May - a figure that had doubled in six weeks and which is also more than double the unemployment rate for the same time in 2019.
Pictured: 2,670 people were actively seeking work by 24 May, a figure that had doubled in six weeks.
JET is therefore calling on employers in every sector to give young people with a disability or health condition a chance.
"Cast your mind back to when you were getting your first job," Mr Jones said. "It’s even more important for our clients to be given a helping hand. Once they are established, and they gain confidence, it gets easier."
Last year, JET’s 14-21 Service worked with 55 young people to help them find work as well as doing introductory work with a further 83 students in all mainstream schools and Highlands College.
"We need to continue to give opportunities, at a time when opportunities are thin on the ground," Mr Jones said said.
"Even if it is a conversation now, with a view to work tasters, placements - or even jobs - in the autumn, we urge employers to get in touch."
Pictured top: JET supports islanders in all sectors of employment.
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