Centro schemes in the spotlight with government award

Recognition for travel scheme that helps tackle unemployment.

Centro’s trailblazing jobseeker schemes have carried off a brand new industry award for Discovering Potential .

The Department for Work & Pensions-sponsored special award recognised Centro’s support for jobseekers via both its WorkWise and Prince’s Trust schemes. Minister for Employment, the Right Hon Priti Patel, made the presentation at the annual Best Companies Awards in London.

DWP introduced the See Potential campaign to showcase work by employers to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds find work – and the department sponsored the award after working closely with Best Companies over the last year. To date the Centro schemes in the spotlight with government award free interview travel offer has helped more than 27,000 people in the West Midlands find and stay in employment, while last year nine young people secured apprenticeships through the Prince’s Trust scheme.

Centro operates the Prince’s Trust Get Into Transport initiative jointly with industry partners National Express West Midlands, London Midland and Virgin Trains. Centro’s performance & development manager Charlie Wright and sustainable travel manager Alison Pickett this week met the Minister to tell the story behind the success. Prisons Minister Andrew Selous MP also met the Centro team, whose inclusion of young offenders in the Prince’s Trust programme has been a real success.

This is the latest of several awards for WorkWise, widely recognised for effective work with jobseekers and held up as a model of best practice in the field. The Minister is keen to encourage communication between organisations to communicate and share experience and expertise about how they work, the barriers they have faced and how they have overcome them.

The WorkWise scheme helps to remove transport barriers for people trying to get back into work by offering free public transport tickets and expert journey planning advice. It provides free unlimited day passes to attend interviews and free travel on bus, train and tram, for the first month of a new job.

WorkWise has created a particularly effective working partnership with Jobcentre Plus. Latest half-yearly results show 73% of participants remain in employment six months after receiving the WorkWise specialised support, with more than nine out of ten continuing to commute to their jobs by sustainable modes of travel.

WorkWise is part of Centro’s Smart Network, Smarter Choices initiative, launched after a successful bid to Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund. The project supports economic growth and reduces carbon emissions through linking travel to employment opportunities and encouraging people to travel by more sustainable means.

Centro’s director of integrated mobility Chris Perry said: “It is wonderful news that this great work has come to the attention of the Minister and that Centro’s WorkWise team’s excellent efforts are going to be an inspiration and a practical help to other organisations and jobseekers across the country.”

“We are currently developing online access to the WorkWise offer, working closely with local JobCentre Plus offices to help promote and spread the word about how WorkWise can support unemployed people in finding, starting and staying in new jobs. It should go live next month, allowing West Midlands’ residents to use it anywhere they have internet access – speeding up the process and opening it up to more people.”