People and Work Unit

Origins

The People and Work Unit was developed as the result of a study into the impacts of the large-scale slimdown of the Llanwern Steelworks in the early 1980s. The steering group brought together for that study felt it was important to continue to study the human impacts of economic decisions and so developed the Unit as a way of both discovering what impacts ripple out from macro decisions on the economy and as a tool to try out ways of addressing the resulting problems.

Success Factor

The Unit has got better at what it does, with the key factor being that an effective working relationship has been established with a couple of funders who respect what the unit does and that good quality commissioned work has led to other approaches. The analysis and evaluation of the work has improved and the Unit has moved from relying primarily on a group of freelance researchers to employing a researcher and development worker, enabling it to be more proactive. It has also built up an expertise in drawing in European funding which has meant that the Unit has been able to work beyond Wales (managing a partnership project involving nine European countries) and, more importantly, accessed funding that can be used to match-fund and that is paid upfront so as to manage cashflow.

The Future

The Unit has just started a new programme which will, by January, employ 16 people 12 of whom will be apprentices learning skilled construction trades. 4 team leaders who are themselves skilled tradesmen will be managing, guiding and supporting the apprentices and working in their local community to raise awareness of careers in construction. The Unit also has plans for a similar programme to support unqualified young adults to become nurses – with the aim of starting this in September.