STRIVE (Support and Training Result in Valuable Employees) was created in East Harlem, New York in 1985 to help people who faced significant barriers to employment achieve economic independence through work. STRIVE’s innovative model, which differed greatly from the conventional wisdom in employment and training support at that time, combines a short period of attitudinal training, the soft skills needed to survive and excel in any workplace, with job search techniques, a simulated work environment, and long term aftercare follow up. The project has expanded over the years into a city wide network of over 22 cities in the US.
STRIVE was brought to the UK in 1999, and is delivered through a franchising arrangement with LEAP (Local Employment Access Projects) in London. Following their involvement in a local employability partnership learning journey to New York in 2004, The Lennox Partnership identified the project as one which would fill a gap in the portfolio of support services being delivered, particularly for those client groups furthest from the labour market. Although it was recognised STRIVE was achieving considerable success in moving people into employment in America, it was felt that a feasibility study to determine its relevance, and potential success in Scotland was required. This was carried out by Glasgow University’s TERU team, who subsequently also evaluated the programme in 2008
The main component of the project is a three week intensive "job readiness" programme that focuses on the all-important soft skills that are needed to succeed in the world of work. On completion of the workshops clients are linked to a Client Placement Officer who will provide them with intensive one to one support and guidance in their attempts to secure employment. Jobsearch facilities are included as part of the programme including supported access to on-line vacancies and recruitment web-sites.
Links to employers are a crucial component of the STRIVE process, and a strong emphasis of the delivery is being able to meet the needs of employers as well as having the interests of the unemployed jobseekers at heart.
Responsibility to the clients does not end when they find employment. Further support in the form of an aftercare service is provided for at least two years to help with any problems in successfully adjusting to the demands of the workplace.
In summary the main objectives of the STRIVE project are:
o To "empower" participants and develop the soft skills, the attitudes and behaviours, that employers in the job market are seeking
o To promote "real jobs" which would motivate those who were sceptical about employment schemes, and those who had been unsuccessful in the past
o To provide a service that would improve job retention, so that those who were placed in jobs would be able to use them as a springboard into continuous sustainable employment.
STRIVE is unique in terms of simulating a working environment for clients who attend the workshops wearing "business dress" and are subject to the same rules / disciplines that would be expected during a probationary period in a new job. During the workshop we facilitate a range of exercises which gets clients to look at their behaviours/attitude and the impact those have on securing and sustaining
employment so that when they are presented to employers they are aware of all of their expectations and are afforded the best chance of securing employment in what is still an extremely competitive labour market. Some of case studies from clients who have participated can be found here http://www.thelennoxpartnership.org/case-studies/