Updated: Wednesday, 1st April 2020 @ 9:43pm

Charity takes job-seekers to the car wash with UniValet project at University of Manchester

Charity takes job-seekers to the car wash with UniValet project at University of Manchester

By Alex Bysouth

Disadvantaged job-seekers’ work prospects will be boosted after the University of Manchester teamed up with Rochdale-based charity Petrus to launch UniValet on Wednesday.

The scheme gives local people who are struggling to find employment a chance to work for the on-campus car cleaning company, providing paid on-the-job training.

Steve Grant, the University’s assistant HR director, feels the training programme can be a platform to future work and praised the opportunities UniValet are creating.

“This is not simply training people to clean cars – we are training them to go to work,” said Mr Grant. 

“We’re giving unemployed people in Greater Manchester the opportunity to learn about customer services, team work and punctuality and all of the other skills and attributes employers expect.

“Job-seekers without this kind of basic experience face real barriers getting into work.

“For many of the people who join this training programme it will be a step on to the first rung of the jobs ladder.”

He added: “UniValet is the first in a number of programmes that the University is developing in support of the Greater Manchester Commitment to Youth Employment.

UniValet employees will also attend The Works, a training and advice centre with sites based in Moss Side and Ardwick set up by the university.

Nicola Burns from The Works said: “This scheme provides employment and training for long-term unemployed people, with any profits going straight back into other similar initiatives.

“Staff will be employed initially on three-month contracts, but the Works will support them to make sure that that the skills and experience they acquire on the programme help them to move in to long-term jobs.”

UniValet’s team leader Darren Vickers was homeless and out of work for 18 months before seeking help from Petrus and is excited to see the scheme take off.

Mr Vickers said: “We’re all very excited about this new initiative and it’s great to see somewhere like The University of Manchester opening its doors to support local people in this way.

“Hopefully, this scheme will really take off, and then expand to include other big employers across the city.”

Those employed by UniValet will be trained to Level Two NVQ which Denis Skelton of Petrus Social Enterprise believes will provide them with excellent transferrable skills.

The University of Manchester have become the first university in the country to pilot a project to tackle the issue of long-term unemployment.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.