Participants on the course were recruited through SECAD’s extensive network of voluntary and community groups and also from referrals from Department of Social Protection (DSP). There were sixteen participants in each class and all of whom were compatible with SICAP criteria. The group profile varied but broadly, 25-40 years old including four males and eight females.
SECAD identified customer service skills as applicable and transferable to all types of employment both in the internal environment and external environment at work. The course focussed on understanding key aspects of customer service, how to create a positive customer environment, the value of the customer and how to deal with complaints.
No one size fits all but the course also aimed to develop participants’ confidence and awareness, and in tandem help build practical skills that may be added to a CV to boost the chances of employment.
Alongside key modules on customer service, the course also covered practical aspects such as:
- Writing a CV and cover letter
- Preparing for good performance at interview
- Learning how to analyse personal experience at interview and follow up/seek feedback
- Supporting participants to be in empowered and in control at interview
- Conducting mock interviews with emphasis on body language and dress code
- Option to gain valuable work experience with customer focus to improve employment prospects
Specifically, SECAD organised field trips to local employers in relevant sectors, for example a hotel in the tourism sector. Such field trips served to show rather than tell, and reinforce the class room theory by examples in a practical workplace environment.
SECAD also strove to see each participant as unique with their own personal values and goals. Participants were encouraged to bring their own personality and talents to deliver customer service with a difference.
There was a low uptake of work experience placements, issues encountered included participants not availing of work placements due to need to get a real paying job.
Participants were very satisfied with the programme and found it built confidence to recognise transferable skills and be empowered and energised to know how to go about finding a job. Participants also enjoyed interaction in the programme and being part of something.
‘’The course was a great refresher for me to know what’s involved in writing a great CV. It also helped me to meet new people and it opened doors to find my new role in administration.’’
Li Chai – course participant
SECAD’s experience of running the course and linking with employers was positive. However, it is recommended to make the work experience element of the course compulsory to create an immediate link into employment. More emphasis should be placed on a four week part-time work experience placement (approx. 4 hours per day). Such emphasis on practical work experience could help to foster more sustainable longer term employment outcomes.
For more information, contact:
Frances Doyle, firstname.lastname@example.org