Looking for work during and after COVID

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The VCSE sector has inevitably suffered its share of cutbacks during the pandemic in terms of loss of income and consequent pressure on staffing levels. But there’s hope – and support – for those having to seek fresh fields in 2021. If you, your colleagues or your service users are having to find new employment there are avenues of help available. 

The list is exhaustive – but hopefully not exhausting! Please share any or all the content to share with colleagues or service users as appropriate.   

Help available locally 

Here's an easy one to start with. Sign up to the Working Together jobs newsletter here. It's free, and published every month jointly between Community Action Norfolk, Voluntary Norfolk and Momentum (Norfolk). It's a comprehensive guide to VCSE jobs across the county. 

Norfolk County Council’s Refocus – Retrain – Reskill  programme offers an excellent range of support covering:  

  • Support in finding a new job 
  • Understanding your skills 
  • One-to-one information, advice and guidance 
  • Identifying skills you may need for a new job  
  • Starting a business 

Those last two comprise courses run by Norfolk Adult Learning.  

Though primarily focussed on advising and supporting businesses and project development, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) offers an interactive support finder to find out what advice, help and training is available in Norfolk and Suffolk for those looking for work, training, or wanting to start their own business - find out more here.  

New Anglia LEP commends to employers a whole range of support to encourage employers to take on new staff – such as Kickstart, Access to Work, placements, internships, work experience and work trials aimed at supporting job seekers. Read more here.    

The LEP also delivers the Building Better Opportunities programme, investing in local projects, tackling root causes of poverty, improving employability for the most disadvantaged, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth.  

National initiatives – a choice of pathways 

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that 1.3 million people who are currently furloughed won’t ever go back to their job. Statistics show that 131,000 people have left self-employment and are therefore likely to be hunting for new roles. Businesses are going into administration and announcing redundancies, which means there are fewer vacancies for each person looking for a job. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of government schemes specifically designed to help people look for work, including new ones that have been announced to help people struggling to find employment after Coronavirus. 

Plans for Jobs

This government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ programme aims to support, create and protect jobs across the UK.  It brings together guidance for job seekers so they can develop their skills, get advice on applications, and search for opportunities via a comprehensive selection of job categories. Visit their page here.

Job Centre’s Rapid Response Scheme 

The Job Centre has a rapid response service, with tools to help find a new role. These include: 

  • helping write a CV 
  • finding opportunities 
  • information on benefits 
  • finding training and building new skills  

It may even be able to help with costs such as travel to work expenses, childcare and tools and equipment. The Rapid Response Service can be contacted at rrs.enquiries@dwp.gov.uk. Eligibility criteria for contacting are: 

  • you suspect you’re going to be made redundant 
  • you are in your notice period 
  • up to 13 weeks after you’ve been made redundant 

If you are claiming Universal Credit, new funding should make it easier to see a work coach at the Job Centre. If you’ve been unemployed for at least three months, the help offer will be stepped up. 

The National Careers Service 

There’s good advice on the National Careers Service website, with a skills assessment, course search and one-to-one advice. To speak to a careers adviser call 0800 100 900 or use the webchat function. 

Find a Job service 

To help people who have lost their jobs during the crisis, the government has set up a Find a Job service. You need to create an account and then you can search for suitable jobs with 147,000 registered employers. There are sections for jobs facing critical shortages, which aim to encourage you to consider an alternative role in industries with high demand – such as health and social care. 

You could check private job search boards too, such as Monster and Indeed. 


The government has offered extra cash for businesses that decide to take on apprentices, meaning there should be more vacancies than ever. Obviously, this is a great route for young people starting out, but there are also lots of schemes available for people aged over 25 who want to move into a new industry. You can check the government's website for companies that offer places. They’re particularly useful for people who have more to offer than can be demonstrated through their CV, because a prospective employer will have the opportunity to see you work before you have your interview. Read more here.


This provides funding to create six-month work placements for 16 - 24 year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment The government pays National Minimum Wage for up to 25 hours a week.  Visit Kickstart here.

Grants for training and learning 

There are several different options to help people with learning and training. These include grants and bursaries that do not need to be paid back, learner support for people aged 19 and over and advanced learning loans for those aged over 24.  You can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to help with the costs of a course at a college or training provider in England. 

Environmental jobs 

Help is available for people who want to work in environment-related projects. The government is investing up to £40 million in a Green Jobs Challenge Fund for environmental charities and public authorities to create and protect 5,000 jobs in England.  The jobs will involve improving the natural environment, including planting trees, restoring habitats, clearing waterways, and creating green space for people and wildlife. Read more here.

Access to Work scheme 

Access to Work is designed to help people who are disabled or have a physical or mental health condition to stay in employment. The scheme can support you in speaking to your employer about changes they need to make to support you and can even provide grants to keep your job accessible. 

An Access to Work grant can pay for: 

  • special equipment, adaptations or support worker services to help you do things like answer the phone or go to meetings 
  • help getting to and from work. 
  • You can also apply to Access to Work to get money for a communication support worker to go to your job interview with you. 

You can use this service if you: 

  • are deaf or hard of hearing and need a British Sign Language interpreter or lip speaker 
  • have a physical or mental health condition or learning difficulty and need communication support 

You can find out more and apply online here

Top tips on the job hunt 

Get your CV in order 
  • Create or update your CV. You can use template CVs as a guide. Don’t forget to check spelling and grammar – an app like Grammarly can be helpful 
  • Sort your social media. LinkedIn is very useful when you’re looking for work. Update it carefully with your skills and experience and ask people you’ve worked with in the past to add their recommendations.  
Tailor your applications 
  • It’s about quality as much as quantity, so don’t just fire off the same letter and CV to everyone; take the time to tailor it to the skills and experience the company is looking for. 
  • Do a bit of background research on the organisation and show your knowledge in your application.  
  • Look beyond the job adverts 
  • Talk to everyone you can think of about your job search. People may be able to put a good word in for you or point you towards a vacancy you hadn’t been aware of. 
  • Contact organisations you’d like to work for and get in touch with a well-researched covering letter and a polished CV asking to be considered for roles that come up. 



Government advice about what your rights are can be found here.  

These are difficult times, especially for those looking for new opportunities. Do check out and share these links with anyone you think might benefit.