learndirect will see in the New Year with a contract to deliver the New Enterprise Allowance scheme across Mercia and the Midland Shires as well as parts of Birmingham and Solihull.
The new contract from the Department for Work and Pensions – offering mentoring and financial support to jobseekers looking to start their own business – will see learndirect build on the current service given to help Work Programme clients move into self-employment.
Around 200 businesses – in areas from sports therapy to IT – have been created so far thanks to help and support from learndirect, with this expected to increase rapidly to more than 1000 in the next year.
Ian Carlier, Enterprise Director at learndirect, said: “We’ve already seen good levels of success in helping unemployed people move into self-employment and the NEA contract will allow us to expand this support to an even wider audience.
“At learndirect we’re really passionate about helping budding entrepreneurs reach their full potential. Our team of enterprise coaches work closely with clients to think through their business ideas, do market research, build a business plan and look at sources of funding.
“We want to make sure everyone who’s thought about self-employment as an option is given the time and resources to think through their idea and properly scope it out. And everyone who takes this route can also work towards a nationally-recognised qualification, a level 2 Certificate in Creating and Starting a Business.”
One customer who has taken the self-employment route is 50-year old Ian Johnson from Loughborough. He’d been out of work for four years after being made redundant from an IT role in 2009. Having worked in IT since he left school he was keen to return to the industry he loved but was finding it hard. After joining learndirect on the Work Programme he began to consider setting up his own business and following continued support from learndirect’s enterprise team was able to set up his own IT consultancy business in 2014.
Ian said: “A combination of the recession and my age made it nigh on impossible to get back into work. I was constantly told I was too well qualified for roles or not qualified enough. It was beginning to feel like IT was a young man’s game.
“At learndirect I got help with lots of things I’d never had to think about when working for someone else, like all the legal side of things I’d need to complete paperwork, public liability and that sort of thing. I got support from someone who had been self-employed himself and that was invaluable.
“As well as the support learndirect helped pay towards some of the set up costs which really helped. I’m enjoying being self-employed. There are pros and cons of every job but there are lots of advantages such as being able to choose your own working hours.”
As part of the new contract, learndirect is on the hunt for volunteer mentors to inspire potential entrepreneurs. Find out more