Inclusive Ethos and Strategic Partnerships Key to Participant Progress at NOW Group
The recently published Education and Training Inspectorate report on the NOW Group inspection visit in September 22 has highlighted the impact of the organisation’s emphasis on promoting an inclusive ethos, the benefits of working with a range of strategic partners, its co-design approach and the organisation’s commitment to quality improvement.
Commenting on participant progression the report stated that ‘with the support of a significant number of strategic partners the project is making good progress to achieve the progression targets of participants into employment’. It was noted that ‘participants who met with inspectors during the visit have made significant progress in their personal development from their starting point on the project’ and that during focus groups ‘participants spoke of the positive impact of the project on their employability skills, social inclusion and preparation for work, with some of them describing the impact as ‘life changing” and “life-saving’.
The report also commented on NOW Group’s “strong commitment to providing flexible and participant-centered programmes” based on listening to feedback from participants on the Verve training and employment programme and that the training, co-designed by staff, participants and employers is “well aligned to labour market intelligence and industry needs”.
The organisation’s commitment to quality and planning for quality improvement through self-evaluation was said to be “well embedded across the organisation” with management “planning effectively for learning and quality improvement, including planning for sustainability and progression of participants”. The report provides the example of the development of the NOW Group’s Academy model where “appropriate reflection and self-evaluation of this model of delivery has resulted in improved planning with a focus on assessing participants’ suitability, the specific roles and responsibilities in certain industries, as well as placement and job opportunities”. The curriculum provided was reported to be “very good… well-balanced and individually tailored to support each participant with an individual progression pathway to meet their specific needs, interests and aspirations”.
Overall, the report noted that “the strategic leadership and management of the project is highly effective, with a strong emphasis placed on promoting an inclusive ethos and the welfare of both participants and staff. There is a strong commitment to providing flexible and participant-centred programmes, and listening to and acting on feedback, both in the development of the programmes and in the professional development of the staff. The staff spoke of the high levels of care and support provided by the management team and of the emphasis placed by the organisation on listening to and incorporating their views and experiences”.
Commenting on the report NOW Group CEO said that “Operational Excellence is a well-established pillar of our organisational strategy and the foundation that underpins all our work. Our investment in continuous improvement, ISO Quality and Environmental accreditation and impact measurement through the Social Return on Investment model has reaped exceptional rewards for the organisation in terms of the impact on our participants. Not only have we exceeded our targets in securing 149 paid jobs and delivering 736 training accreditations for the financial year to date but our recent SROI report has indicated that for every £1 invested in NOW Group the organisation has returned £20 in social value”.