Amidst the news that UK unemployment has reached £2.62 million, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) has urged UK plc to reconsider its approach to skills training and is calling for the private and public sectors, employer associations and the Government to work together to establish new, more accessible routes into employment.

Currently 1.09 million women are out of a job as female unemployment is at its highest level since 1998, and appears to be rising steadily. The ECA’s recently-launched employment initiative, Wired for Success, aims to tackle this issue for under-represented groups, by providing a blueprint that can be successfully replicated across the country.

The Wired for Success scheme aims to provide opportunities for women to move into an industry that has been traditionally dominated by men – the electrical contracting industry.

The London pilot sees 12 unemployed women training in the electrical industry, where only 0.14 percent of operatives are female. A specially developed course provides the flexibility needed to accommodate the women who want to work but who have family commitments which prevent them from undertaking traditional training or employment.

ECA Skills Ambassador and former President Diane Johnson says: “Wired for Success is giving these women, all of whom are living in social housing, the opportunity to get off benefits and into a job in a sector with a looming skills crisis.  We hope this pilot –in which we have collaborated with social housing association, L&Q – will just be the beginning. The model could be easily picked up by progressive organisations working together in any skilled sector across the country, with the aim of reversing unemployment and giving under-represented groups the chance to contribute to the economy.”

John Hayes, Minister for Skills says: “By opening access to vocational training, Wired for Success will help get women who need support to get work, and get on at work, the opportunity to build lasting and productive careers. This initiative should inspire other industries to look at how vocational training can work for them, giving them the skilled staff they need to prosper and grow.

Johnson says: “This programme is a great example of like-minded organisations working together to build better lives for people. We are keen to engage with Government to see how this template can be expanded and would like to discuss how funding could be focused on initiatives like this rather than on Further Education courses that get people a certificate, but do not necessarily provide the hands-on experience required by employers.”