‘Electronic village’ project equips Dearne residents for work with computer skills

A scheme aimed at providing Dearne Valley residents with the keyboard skills they will need to find work – financed with money from Barnsley Council - has proved a huge success.

High tech: Out of work in the Dearne have the chance to learn modern skills
High tech: Out of work in the Dearne have the chance to learn modern skills

The Dearne Electronic Community Village has been given a contract to provide services by the Dearne Area Council, a body made up of councillors representing the district who have a budget of council cash to spend on improving the area.

It had previously been operating on a more informal basis, with less secure funding.

An update report to Area Council members gives the project a series of green lights on a ‘traffic light’ rating, getting seven people into local employment in the space of three months against an annual target of 20.

In the same period 28 learners were recruited, against an annual expectation of 100 and 20 went into further training, with the annual target for that set at 50.

Numbers achieving a qualification were slightly below target, with 20 making that leap in three months against the annual target of 90.

To qualify for the scheme, learners have to be unemployed and are referred to the project, which costs the Area Council £33,000 a year, from several sources, including the Job Centre.

One concern is an increase in numbers of people attending who have learning difficulties, who are jobseeking after failing health assessments.

Councillors have been told that “many of these learners are not fit, either physically or mentally, for employment” in a report. There is a concern that could have a long term adverse impact on the scheme’s performance against targets set by the Area Council, if the situation continues.

Many of those involved in training are long-term unemployed, with health problems and experiencing financial hardship, with some seeking loans to pay for essentials.

Some of those are referred to an advice service, which is also financed by the Area Council.