Employees always say we hire for technical skills and we fire for soft skills. When have you ever had emotional intelligence training as a student in a school, college or uni? It’s accidentally picked up through accidental circumstance. Why can’t we be more intentional about it?
As an entrepreneur my responsibility was to think ‘there’s a gap here and there’s an idea of what we could do, so why don’t I invest some money to try to tackle it and prove something?’
I knew I’d never get any funding for an idea, so I sold my house to fund a pilot. Not everyone would do that but, you know, I thought in for a penny in for a pound.
At the end of my trial I had helped long term unemployed people back into work through a new programme I designed that provided training in IQ, and emotional and digital intelligence at the same time.
Despite its success I wasn’t able to raise the money needed to take it further, so in 2006 I had to park that approach. I went back to commercial work to make money to keep developing the idea, and then in 2010 the New Labour government under Tony Blair launched the Future Jobs fund.
Future Jobs provided funding that allowed us to open pop-up training centres in Glasgow, Newcastle, Skelmersdale, Worcester, London, Guildford and Eastbourne. 54% of the long-term unemployed we worked with left those centres into full time employment or created their own companies, compared to 7% of people taking part in government training programmes.
The impact it made on the course participants was huge. We were working with people that had been unemployed from six months to 19 years. We had people with degrees coming out of their ears but still couldn’t find work. Once you get into the trap of unemployment you slowly get depressed, you lose your confidence.