Staff Spotlight: An Interview with Alastair Hendry

This week’s Staff Spotlight will be focusing on Alastair Hendry, Employability Support Officer at East Lothian Works. Having been a member of the team since September 2018, Alastair has been working hard to provide employment support to adults in the county. I sat down and asked him some questions:

What does your job involve?
I work with adults from 20 years upwards by helping them find suitable or alternative employment, work experience placements, or choosing a suitable career. My work is mostly on a 1-to-1 basis, but I have also been involved in group work. Along with my line manager, I helped deliver the New Opportunities East Lothian (NOEL) course, which supported people to improve their employability skills and gain an SQA qualification in Employability. Participants also have the chance to gain a food hygiene and first aid certificate, as well as a work experience placement. My work involves helping people create or update their CV, complete application forms, interview techniques, and mock interviews. I am also involved in sourcing work experience placements and assisting with basic IT skills.

What is your favourite part about your job?
I enjoy when people reach a positive destination, which could be paid employment, a work experience placement, or gaining a qualification.

What is the most difficult part about your job?
People can get down when things don’t go their way, such as being unsuccessful in getting a job they have been interviewed for. It can be a challenge to keep their spirits up and convince them that if they persist, things will go their way.

What is a typical day in the working life like for you?
I look at job websites for advertised vacancies, meeting with clients and working through their Individual Action Plans. I phone employers looking for potential vacancies or work experience opportunities.

How did you get into this line of work?
I had previously worked for Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) first as an IT trainer, then an Employment Adviser.

What types of people do you work with on a daily basis?
I work with adults of various ages, ranging from their twenties to their sixties who may face barriers to returning to work such as having caring responsibilities, or perhaps a health issue or disability. Some have found themselves out of work or facing a career change later in life. I have also worked with Syrian refugees by assisting them in creating a CV.

Why is your service important?
I feel it is an essential service as paid employment is vital for individuals in terms of the financial benefits it brings them, but also self-esteem. Individuals are able to get out more if they have the money to do so. This has a positive impact on their mental and physical health. It also has a positive benefit on their families.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Alastair for answering my questions – it’s greatly appreciated! If you’d like to find out more, feel free to email elworks@eastlothian.gov.uk for more information.

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