Over the years, HSBC has witnessed the rising importance of employment-linked skills development and has determined to support programmes that help to develop “future skills” focused on increasing levels of employability and financial capability.

Launched on November 1 2018, the Roots for Success Programme is supporting all CPC clients who want to move away from financial assistance and become economically self-sufficient through employment or starting their own business. The programme began with 53 participants and within the first few months, nine had already found full time employment.

“The exact number is elusive, but economists estimate that 20 per cent of the local Bermudian population is living at or below the poverty line,” explains Kelly Hunt, Executive Director of the CPC. “Furthermore, seven figures a month is being spent by the government on financial assistance. Many of these recipients are able bodied, they just need the skills, confidence, and support to successfully achieve full time employment.”

All adult clients of the CPC are eligible to participate in Roots for Success.

The CPC’s Director of Client Services, Rachel Dill, is the facilitator for the whole programme and she put the curriculum together. In addition to HSBC, the CPC is also working with the Department for Workforce Development, which is providing a facility for the workshops, and for the entrepreneurial skills education, they are working with the BEDC (Bermuda Economic Development Corporation).

The programme involves a series of workshops, various group activities and on the job training opportunities. Lessons include ‘How to Create a Resume’, ‘Interviewing Skills’, ‘The Working Parent’, ‘Budgeting’ and ‘4Cs: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity’. The main concepts they look at during these sessions are ability to work in a team, problem solving skills, work ethic, technical skills, communication skills, strategic planning and organizational ability.

“The working parent class is an important one because all of our clients are parents or caregivers,” explains Hunt. “Many are single parents, so we look at some healthy ways to cope with the stress that can come with that”.

“Clients learn interviewing skills through roll play, and we discuss the importance of appearance, first impressions and body language,” she continues. “We also have a session on social media. People don’t always understand what that footprint looks like and how prospective employers can view it.”

Hunt says that another area of great need to CPC clients is budgeting so they do workshops that taught them how to create an excel spreadsheet and how to set goals based on income.

Once the programme began, the Roots for Success Team realised that not everybody was going to get into a traditional work role and instead wanted to start their own business:

“There are a few clients who want to create their own business or mobile service such as a beauty service,” she explains. “This is where we can work with the BEDC who can offer funding and loans. It means we can tailor the programme to each individual.”

“People don’t want to be on financial assistance, they want to be able to provide for their own families,” says Clesia Pachai, Community Investment Manager for HSBC Bank Bermuda Ltd. “HSBC wants to help them develop their skills, improve their confidence, further their education, understand how to manage their finances and ultimately become economically self-sufficient.

“Roots for Success is a proven method to help people, in this case parents and caregivers, find the employment they want and need. We are therefore proud to be supporting it.”

HSBC’s support for the Roots for Success programme includes funding the programme facilitator and supporting clients who have gone on to study courses at the Bermuda College. Currently one client is studying nursing and another is doing an Associate’s degree.

Hunt explains that outside the remit of Roots for Success they are generally trying to provide as much additional support to their clients as possible to help them gain full-time employment.

“We have a walk-in facility where people come in to apply for jobs, print out resumes or letters of recommendation.”

If someone hasn’t graduated high school, they will also help them to get their GED (Graduate Education Diploma): “The GED is in lieu of a high school diploma and means people can then go on to do post-graduate or college type courses,” says Hunt. “We work with an adult education centre and the Department of Workforce Development to support our clients in this area.”

In the few months since Roots for Success began, Hunt says workshop attendance and completion has been close to 100 per cent, 90 per cent of participants performed well in their mock interviews, 32 CVs have been prepared and long-term employment has been achieved by nine clients.

“We are really proud of what our clients have already managed to achieve,” says Hunt. “As more of them get full-time jobs or start successful businesses, they will be able to make a better life for themselves and their families, and we just want to be as empowering as we can be.”