The Unipart Outstanding Employment Award: Barclays - helping people facing multiple barriers to work.

Award Type: 

  • 1,166 people involved in the programme
  • 891 people secured jobs

An innovative way of helping people facing multiple barriers to work.


If your purpose as a business is to encourage economic growth and stability, making sure people have access to work is crucial. The evolving demands of business means new skills are needed and new forms of talent are central to accelerating success and sustainability.

By 2020, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that the global economy will need 212 million new jobs to accommodate current unemployment, provide opportunities for the next generation and supplement projected job losses due to industries being automated. The ILO estimates a third of current work activities could be displaced by 2030.

It is against this backdrop that Barclays – winner of the Unipart Outstanding Employment (Large) category at the Responsible Business Awards – is building connections on both sides of the employment gap.  They are helping people prepare for the future world of work, and supporting companies looking to connect with the right candidates and create new roles.

“Although there are many employability programmes that offer general skills, there are very few that offer real skills training with actual jobs at the end of it,” says Nicki Thomson, head of business services at Barclays Corporate.

Connect with Work, the programme devised by the global bank, aims to change this. It is for people who have the aptitude and attitude to enter the workplace, yet face barriers such as a lack of qualifications, experience or confidence. The programme links young people aged 16 and over with businesses that are recruiting but struggling to find skilled and motivated individuals. Barclays works with a number of charity partners to help train people in job-specific skills it knows businesses are looking for and helps get them into jobs or apprenticeships. 

Barclays also makes the most of its connections, helping entrepreneurs, as well as clients and suppliers, to create entry level jobs.  

The scheme, as at the end of 2017, has helped 1,166 people, secured jobs for 891 of them and engaged more than 100 UK businesses. Barclays is clearly proud of these numbers as it continues to build the skills and confidence of young people.  These include: a structured four-week course for those in need of substantial support, covering communication, problem solving, the job market and interview practice; and, advice and guidance for those closer to being job-ready, including CV and interview advice, and job application support.

Dedicated advisors stay in touch with each person to make sure they overcome their barriers to work. 

“We’re also proud of the programme’s capacity to challenge employer perceptions, and provide companies with an opportunity to diversify their workforce,” says Barclays, which also works with ex-offenders to help them transition into the world of work. 

Beyond Connect with Work, the bank has a number of other initiatives to support and promote jobs, skills and local community support. Unreasonable Impact is a multi-year partnership with Unreasonable Group to support an international network of start-ups. The aim is to help scale up entrepreneurial solutions that will help employ thousands of people worldwide, while solving some of our most pressing societal challenges.

There is also LifeSkills, aimed at 11 to 24 year-olds in need skills and work experience. It is one of the biggest youth employability programmes in the UK, working with teachers, parents and businesses by giving young people free tools, tips and work experience opportunities. UK businesses can upload work experience placements on the LifeSkills platform, which teachers then use to find their students a suitable opportunity.

Elsewhere, the Veterans Employment Transition Support programme aims to find full-time employment for ex-military personnel of all ages who are struggling to get back into work after service.