project impressFinding work is hard enough, but staying in a job and progressing in it is often just as hard.

Project IMPRESS (Innovative Meaningful Post Recruitment Employment Support Service) was a scheme which ran in five areas in the UK and four in France, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, offering support to people who started a job after six months or more of unemployment, or who were working for the first time, and to their employers.

Employers were given access to an Employment Liaison Officer, who offered help with staff retention, upskilling and management support, staff induction, HR advice, and future workforce planning. Employees, meanwhile, were supported with professional advice about problem solving, identifying needs and aspirations, and addressing problems such as stress.

Support was offered by telephone, face-to-face, by email and online, and can last for up to 18 months.

The scheme ran from 2012 to 2015 and reached 1,635 beneficiaries, just below its target of 1,800. However, 1,065 of those people sustained employment – way above the original 50% target. 331 went on to further training, 62 achieved career advancement, and 741 businesses benefited from the project. Over the course of the project, 31 staff exchanges also took place for the purpose of comparing and contrasting different approaches taken in the nine areas.