When we set up Ucan Recycling, from the outset we were a very different company. We are classified as a social enterprise which not only means that we are a “not for profit” organisation but it also means that we have a set of values which set us apart from other IT recycling companies.
From the outset, one of these values is that we try and offer job opportunities to the untrained and unemployed of Leeds. It is one of our recruitment strategies to take on those that are genuinely struggling to secure a job but have a strong desire to work and we have realised over the years that it is of mutual benefit to work in this way. The workers get valuable experience and a reference and we get fresh input and ideas as well as an extra pair of hands.
When we first started out, it was like wading through treacle looking or relevant work schemes and providers. You learn from experience and now we have faith in our regular providers such as various Government Agencies including PLUSS and and other agencies including Interserve to provide work experience to those who have expressed an interest in doing so or they have to in order to keep receiving their benefits. We can offer up to 8 weeks at our site in Leeds where we can provide training and guidance in warehouse work, IT hardware and general office work.
This experience gives people the skills, confidence and ability to secure themselves permanent work and where possible we have been able to take them on as employees of Ucan Recycling. They can also get first hand training on computer recycling, and data security issues with the hard drive disposal options that we offer – which is an education in itself.
As well as work experience we are also keen to invest in our full time employees. As a small business we don’t have a massive budget for training and have to weigh up the benefits. However one of the options that we look at favourably is the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) which is a great way of learning whilst on the job and providing real evidence of what you have learned in the workplace which count towards your qualification.
We are also great believers in the Apprenticeship Scheme and have offered a number of young people an IT apprenticeship. One of them being Carl Chadwick, who was shortlisted at the 2014 Leeds Apprenticeship Awards. He is studying the IT Professionals Advanced Apprenticeship at Leeds City College.