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The Works, a ground breaking initiative led by the University of Manchester has won the Social Impact Award in the prestigious annual Guardian Sustainable Business Awards.  The Works is an employment and training centre established in 2011 which aims to improve the work opportunities available to unemployed people by providing training and support to enable them to access temporary and permanent jobs with the University and other local employers.

The Works operates through a unique partnership between the University, the Manchester Growth Company (MGC) and other employers.  It also seeks to embed the University more firmly in its host communities through having a much greater proportion of local residents becoming part of the University‘s own workforce and thereby having a direct stake in the University’s success. 

As part of its remit, The Works connects people who are out of work with appropriate training and work preparedness courses delivered by the Work Company and the Skills Company, both part of the Manchester Growth Company.  Because the centre is embedded within the university’s overall recruitment and human resources systems, its staff are able to flag upcoming job opportunities to potential recruits, and Aspire Recruitment, MGC’s own agency places them into temporary or permanent vacancies.

To date the initiative has helped around 3,000 people find a job, the vast majority of whom (97%) were previously unemployed. Most of the job opportunities are in non-academic areas such as catering, administration and construction.  In what promises to be a major boost for the employment prospects of Moss Side and neighbouring boroughs, The Works is also a key partner in The University of Manchester Construction Academy which has been developed to support the three  major construction firms.  Laing O’Rourke, Balfour Beatty and Sir Robert McAlpine which have been engaged to deliver the university’s  £1bn capital programme and have committed to major employment and skills initiatives to create job and training opportunities on the projects.

Steve Grant, Assistant Director of HR at The University of Manchester, who devised and leads the Works said: "This programme has positioned the University as an employer of choice amongst communities adjacent to our campus  and further afield.  We intend to build on this work and we look forward to working with other employers across Greater Manchester in furthering the development of this initiative and perhaps introducing others in the future. The success of the Works is a direct result not only of the university’s commitment to contributing to raising skills and reducing worklessness but also the unique partnership with MGC which is the key delivery agent for many of the interventions we have developed.’

The Works also won the Outstanding Contribution to the Community in the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards, and is shortlisted in the Innovation category in the 2016 Greater Manchester Skills for Business Awards.

Jerry Stokes, Chief Executive of the Work Company said:  “ We’d like to congratulate the University on winning this important award.  As well as the excellent results that The Works has achieved over the last five years, the University is becoming increasingly involved in offering apprenticeship opportunities for young people, thereby providing a comprehensive range of employment and training routes for unemployed  of all ages.”