How does the OW work?
OW participants undergo an initial 8 week long ‘learning by doing’ experience to kick start new community businesses, with real contracts to deliver, access to all of the tools and equipment they need, expert mentors on site, deadlines to deliver the contracts and payment of agreed rates for successful completion of works.
All that is asked of the participants in the first instance is that they organise themselves into a formal organisation with representatives who can negotiate release of all of the tools, contracts and resources the new businesses need to begin trading. Once suitably organised, the newly formed participant’s enterprise begins delivery of the contracted works.
Although the early days are inevitably a struggle, as the workshop progresses and the pace of delivery is increased, a ‘pressure cooker of organisational and vocational learning’ is generated for participants, and the introduction of enterprise self management tools, lectures on the history of organisation and assistance from expert mentors all combine to help the participants grow in confidence and competence, until they are delivering smoothly, and getting ready to go out into the real world. The key difference between a normal experiential learning experience, where people learn on the job, is that the OW teaches large group organisation in addition to the occupational tasks being performed, by developing the ability to divide labour, manage resources and deliver on tasks efficiently.
This process of learning how to self organise in a large group via the carrying out of practical tasks which require division of labour is known as ‘capacitation’.
How to join in?
All jobs and training opportunities arising from the OW will be advertised via local newspaper jobs pages, radio/TV/newspaper publicity, leaflet drops on Marsh Farm and by word of mouth on the estate. Adverts will highlight the fact that the usual barriers to entry will not apply and will emphasise the social aims of the venture, making it clear that estate residents who are most in need of the jobs are not excluded.
Expressions of interest will be simple and straightforward. Applicants will be able to register their interest by telephone, in person at Marsh House or Futures House, at the Job Centre, by post or by email. Home visits by MFO members are available if applicants are in need of support with any difficulties they may have in registering their interest – i.e. literacy, confidence or language issues.
Expressions of interest will be followed up by an informal one to one meeting with MFO team to collect the following information:
- Extent and nature of any previous work experience, skills and qualifications
- What barriers to employment are there
- What specialist support requirements are needed
- What is the preferred area of work
- What are the second and third preferences for areas of work
A n information meeting to which all applicants are invited will then be held where the process we are about to go through will be outlined in full – the objectives, the method, the resources and support available, the potential benefits, the risks and the challenges.
In the event there are more interested candidates than there are full time work hours available for the duration of the 8 week workshop all candidates will be invited to take part in a selection meeting involving:
- Induction on the social and economic objectives of the project
- Skills and knowledge audit
- Assessment of extent and type of work contracts available during the 8 week workshop
- Matching the vocational needs of the enterprise to be to the skills and knowledge available – keeping the social objectives of the OW firmly in mind
- Explanation of the job sharing option to maximise participation
- Work/benefits induction (looking at economic impact of starting work for individuals in different circumstances)
- Volunteering options