North East Connected

Employability expert calls for personal approach to tackle region’s unemployment

A north east employment expert is calling for more one-to-one advice to help tackle the region’s unemployment position as latest figures show the area still performs behind other parts of the UK.

Only intensive support will transform the work prospects of thousands of unemployed people in the north east according to County Durham Housing Group’s employability specialist Claire Maddison.

Claire, who works as part of one of the region’s largest landlords, has directly helped 30 local people back into work or training so far this year. But, she believes that low confidence and lack of ‘soft’ skills in the north east are real barriers to work.

Claire said: “We see a huge focus on job creation in the north east, which is great. But we don’t often see the same attention given to ensuring that the people who really need those jobs are ready and able to take them.

“Many of the people I meet face the same problems; their confidence is at rock bottom and they’ve never really discussed the people or communications skills that they might need in the workplace. There are some excellent people in our region, who could excel in the workplace, but lots of them need a little extra help.

“Most people who are in work take knowing how to talk, behave, or even dress, in an interview for granted. But for so many people they can be genuine barriers. No number of new jobs will tackle those fundamental issues; it’s something that only one-to-one support, training and advice can give.”

Data revealed this week shows that unemployment in the north east stood at 6% for the last quarter – that’s 75,000 people. The figures rose only slightly; but are still above the national average and almost double the unemployment rate of the south east.

Claire offers support to County Durham Housing Group’s 22,000 tenants in an area stretching from Weardale, via Durham to Peterlee and Seaham. But she is conscious that many other people in the region don’t have access to such intensive and tailored advice.

“Because we are a social landlord, we can go that extra mile in what we do to support our tenants. But we know that there are many other people in the region who don’t have that kind of access to advice and training right now.” Claire added.

Many of the tenants who have worked with Claire and her team have also taken away qualifications, which will stay with them for the rest of their careers, as well as renewed confidence.

Rupert Wansbury is currently receiving support from County Durham Housing Group as he looks to get into work. He said: “Before I found help I was sitting in the house most days. I was worried about my future.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I need to do to improve. I’ve built my confidence and received a lot of help in working out which courses are right for me. Now I’m looking to better my qualifications and get into a full time job.”

More information on one-to-one employability support from County Durham Housing Group is available from Claire Maddison on 0191 349 7657 or email

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