Three ladies sitting at a table in a canteen

New £369,000 partnership with Isle of Wight Council boosts employment prospects for island residents

With the cost-of-living crisis continuing, housing associations Sovereign Network Group (SNG) and Southern Housing are now partnering with the Isle of Wight Council to help island residents find work and improve their career prospects.

This new partnership will see the highly successful Skills4Work employment programme extended until 2025. Most significantly, the programme will now be part-funded by the Shared Prosperity Fund, via the Isle of Wight Council, with continued funding from both housing associations.

With many local households facing financial pressures, the programme will, for the first time, also offer support to those who are in work, but who may be underemployed. Skills4Work will continue to help those not currently working.

Skills4Work has a proven track record of supporting people to find employment on the island. Since launching in April 2021, more than 125 residents have benefitted from access to professional advice, guidance, training opportunities and employment.

Erica Watts, Head of Employment and Skills at SNG said: “The extension of Skills4Work is an example of partnership working at its best – and one which residents on the Isle of Wight will really benefit from as we extend our comprehensive community investment programme. 

“Being awarded funding through the Shared Prosperity Fund is a big step for us – and we’re pleased to be one of the first housing associations in the country to have received this. We’re delighted to be working with like-minded partners who share our commitment to support more people living in our communities across the Isle of Wight.”

Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, cabinet member for Economy, Regeneration, Culture and Leisure at the Isle of Wight Council said: “Building on this already successful programme is a real "no brainer" and a great example of partnership working to increase employment and personal outcomes. Using some of our Shared Prosperity allocation is totally aligned with the government’s guidance for this fund and offers great investment for residents.”

Matthew McLean, Employment and Digital Skills Manager at Southern Housing said: “We’re really pleased to be working with our partners to support local residents to gain work or make next step career moves. We know many households have been impacted by the cost-of-living crisis and the Skills4Work programme directly support people to secure the employment they need.”

Keen to support and leave a positive legacy for islanders, the Isle of Wight Council has joined SNG and Southern Housing to part-fund Skills4Work through its Shared Prosperity Funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Through this, funds are devolved to local authorities who then decide where and how they’d like to invest.

Isle of Wight Council has allocated approximately £272,000 to support a minimum of 220 people over the programme’s duration. This new source of funding, when combined with match and in-kind funding from SNG and Southern Housing, brings total investment in the programme to £369,000.

Skills4Work is a one-to-one employment programme. It is completely free, and open to all eligible residents on the Isle of Wight, regardless of whether they live in a SNG or Southern Housing home.

Anyone aged 16 and over and not in full time paid employment or full-time education can be supported to explore local work and training opportunities and develop their employability skills.  Members of Sovereign’s Employment and Skills team work together to provide the dedicated one-to-one support and coaching. The programme was first introduced to support residents who may have multiple barriers to employment.

If you or someone you know could benefit from Skills4Work, please email or for further information.