The Learning Community


Location: Dinnington, South Yorkshire

The Project: The Learning Community is a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Dinnington, between Sheffield and Rotherham. Since 1991, we’ve been providing learning and skills for some of Yorkshire’s most disadvantaged and socially excluded people. Our aim is to get as many as possible back into learning or work.

Each learner decides what their learning needs are. They set the agenda, and we provide the support they need, through personal coaching, and tutor led group sessions.

We work across the whole of Yorkshire, and we specialise in supporting people from deprived ex colliery and ex steel communities.

We deliver education and skills courses to people from a wide range of backgrounds, including people with mental health needs as part of the Social Prescribing Service funded by the NHS; basic ICT and Digital Inclusion for people with additional learning needs, or who are homeless or in poverty funded by The Good Things Foundation; English for Speakers of Other Languages, and employability support for social entrepreneurs funded by the Building Better Opportunities programme.

We started working as a partner for Efficiency North in 2017, and since then have got over 50 unemployed young people and adults from our bespoke Skills Talent Pool in to decent jobs, and into Apprenticeships.

We were delighted to win the Efficiency North Local Employment Group of the Year award, for our work helping long term unemployed people in to roles in construction and office support.

Our focus is all about working with Efficiency North’s framework partners, and to help recruit really good candidates to fill the Framework Apprenticeships needed this year.

Recently we supported Wharfedale to recruit three apprentices based in Leeds and Bradford. All three roles are in painting and decorating. We liaised closely with Scott from Wharfedale throughout the whole process, starting with circulating the job descriptions to lots of interested young people around the area.

We then designed a Pre-Employment Training (PET) course that would meet the specific recruitment needs of Wharfedale. The course started in June, and ran for three weeks for five days each week, so attending it was a real commitment.

Around 20 people expressed interest in the PET course, and five of them completed all three weeks.

During the three weeks, we covered –

  • Self-assessment of skills and needs;
  • Positive attitudes and behaviours at work;
  • Working in a team;
  • Building working relationships with colleagues;
  • Presenting personal information for the workplace;
  • Applying for a job;
  • Presenting yourself; and
  • Interview skills.

The modules were all customised to painting and decorating, and the course is even accredited by BTEC as the Level 1 - Award in Work Skills.

On the last day, Scott came along and informally met the five learners. He asked a few questions and answered theirs. He was so impressed that all five were invited for an interview, and three were appointed, including Jamal.

Jamal is 20 years old, of mixed race, and comes from Leeds. He was brought up by a single parent, left school at 16, but no longer lives at home.

Jamal attended every day of the PET course. He was enthusiastic throughout it, and learned the skills to secure both an interview, and a role with Wharfedale.

Now, every morning he gets up at 5.00am, and arrives at a pick-up place for 6.00am where a colleague from Wharfedale collects him and takes him to site. Jamal loves his new Apprenticeship, and is looking forward to starting at Leeds College of Building in a few weeks.

Jamal’s ambitions? Well, he wants to do well in his Apprenticeship, and keep working for Wharfedale. He also wants to get himself a decent flat. And eventually he wants a fast car, and to be able to afford some designer clothes. And why not?

The Author

Written by Natalie Irving