Catherine House, an Adelaide-based non-profit organisation, provides supported accommodation and a range of innovative programs and services to around 1,000 single adult women experiencing homelessness each year. Joining the SVA venture portfolio in January 2012, Catherine House is helping to transform lives through innovation in employment support.
Catherine House offers its clients the opportunity to transform their lives through the various supports and programs that it provides, particularly through access to education and employment opportunities.
In 2006 Catherine House opened the Sagarmatha Education and Employment Centre, out of which they run the Catherine House Education and Employment Program. It is dedicated to providing a range of recreational and educational courses, pre and post-employment services and support for women to move onto further study, job training, employment and/or volunteering opportunities.
The success of this program, combined with the organisation’s research into the viability of establishing an enterprise to support women into long-lasting jobs, has led to Catherine House launching a pioneering new social business, the WorkNext Job Placement Service.
WorkNext is a job placement service aimed at securing long-lasting, sustainable and meaningful jobs for women who have experienced social and economic disadvantage, whilst also providing highly motivated, well-trained and reliable staff for employers who take a corporate social responsibility approach to business.
The fee-for-service approach has been modelled on current recruitment industry practice. Job candidates are identified from a highly motivated, and appropriately qualified, pool of clients who will have completed the comprehensive WorkNext Trainee Program. In-depth research takes place with employer partners to fully understand workplace culture, values and requirements to ensure only the most appropriate candidates are put forward for consideration. Once placed, employees and employers benefit from the support of an Employment Coach, as part of the three-month job management service, which includes employees being members of the WN Ambassadors’ Group.
The Trainee Program uses a unique ’360 degree approach’ to job-readiness training, covering social, psychological and skill development. The design creates a balance between strengthening each woman’s ability to not only have the necessary practical job skill level, but equally importantly, the necessary personal resources to be a reliable and stable worker. Catherine House has an in-depth knowledge of WorkNext trainees which assists in ensuring the best match possible for all parties.
WorkNext has a range of broad-based partnerships with government departments, corporate entities and other business groups who are looking for highly motivated, well-trained and reliable staff, and who take a corporate social responsibility approach to doing business. There are currently six employer partners confirmed as participants in the program.
The uniqueness of the program lies in the focus on fostering a woman’s personal resilience as well as building employability skills and industry expertise. As part of our venture partner relationship, SVA is assisting Catherine House with bedding down their measurement and evaluation framework for WorkNext and helping them to develop corporate relationships for possible partnerships.
Image courtesy of Catherine House