Outreach Information & Advice Officer

For some people, seeking information from officials in big, official buildings can be a daunting task. That is why some authorities have outreach venues that provide advice and guidance on careers, employment, education and training to residents in local neighbourhoods. These 'one-stop shops' are managed by information and advice officers (IAOs) and the service is targeted at the disadvantaged sector of the community.

IAOs also train the staff of community groups so that they can develop an IAG (information, advice and guidance) service themselves to help reduce social isolation, improve health, create jobs and enhance the environment - the essential elements of urban regeneration.

Work Environment
Outreach information and advice is delivered in various locations in the council area. It may operate from existing purpose built outreach centres or be part of a local community venue, at parents groups, nurseries, libraries, health centres, housing aid centres/hostels, street festivals, training/job fairs and local events.  The offices/stalls are informal and friendly.

Daily Activities
Giving outreach information, advice and guidance requires a one-to one, personalised service for those who need it. It is especially beneficial for people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds many of whom rely on state benefits- including ethnic minorities, lone parents, refugees, the homeless and long term unemployed. In giving advice the IAOs will need to have some knowledge of the Working Families Tax Credit and New Deal for Lone Parents schemes. They will also need to be familiar with the barriers that can prevent people from getting work, including those who are disabled and the over 55s. The basic objective of the IAO is to:

  • provide outreach information and advice (including job-search and CV writing support) about employment, careers, education and training;
  • refer clients to other organisations where appropriate;
  • provide IAG face-to-face to clients and community groups using telephone, fax and e-mail when necessary;
  • seek out those who are most in need of help - not wait for them to come;
  • make productive use of established careers and training organisations;
  • point out current job vacancies and try to link unemployed clients with employment/work placement opportunities arising in the labour market;
  • organise marketing material to advertise the service - including contributing material for publication in local newsletters and newspapers;
  • develop a bank of employment, careers, training and educational resources;
  • maintain a supply of current material about careers/training events and job vacancies for distribution and display at neighbourhood community venues;
  • design and develop training, group-work and presentation sessions for community organisations;
  • monitor clients' progress;
  • compile and update client records but respect confidentiality;
  • administer an Access Fund.

Skills & Interests
You should be able to:

  • communicate clearly and effectively in person, on the phone and in writing;
  • work with a diverse client group in a sensitive and professional manner;
  • cope with difficult situations under pressure;
  • prepare and deliver group information sessions and presentations;
  • liaise with partnership organisations and develop a network of contacts;
  • manage limited resources;
  • compile records;
  • create attractive publicity and marketing material using IT packages;
  • demonstrate that you have a caring nature.

Entry Requirements
Educated to degree level or equivalent in a relevant subject or have 3 years experience. Experience of giving information and advice about civic matters and of providing job-search support is important. This might have been gained by working in an inner city and multicultural setting where you will have acquired an understanding of urban deprivation and the needs and difficulties experienced by the unemployed. Knowledge of careers, employment, training and education issues is expected.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
With the regeneration of many inner city conurbations and an increasing sense of community responsibility, come a host of different jobs in this area of work. There are opportunities for advancement within Single Regeneration Budget schemes and Neighbourhood Renewal Fund projects (awarded by central government), for example, and with further training and qualification in social work. Local authority partnerships with commercial companies offer further opportunities for management of regeneration projects.

Further Information & Services
European Network of Training Organisations for Local & Regional Authorities www.ento.org/portal
Social Care Association www.socialcareassociation.co.uk
Job Centre Plus www.dwp.gov.uk/jobcentreplus
Citizens Advice  http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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