Building access to employment

The steady drop in unemployment is a good news story for the UK. Not only does our economy thrive when more people are earning a living, but not being in work impacts peoples’ income, health and happiness. Yet not everyone with the desire to work is able to gain appropriate, meaningful employment.

This is particularly the case for people with complex lives or additional support needs including disabled people, refugees, care leavers, ex-offenders, veterans, single parents and people who are homeless.

Social entrepreneurs have bold solutions

There are two main challenges faced by people who want to work, but can’t find a job. Firstly, knocking through the inevitable barriers they face from prospective employers, and secondly, a lack of confidence when taking on a new challenge.

But when given the right support and opportunities, it’s possible for anyone to thrive. A growing movement of social entrepreneurs is creating work from these hidden talents.

Video: Harry Specters


We have supported over 900 social entrepreneurs tackling access to employment


In 2016/17 our social entrepreneurs created 25,597 jobs, volunteering and training opportunities


We’ve helped 32 social ventures tackling employment to raise £2.3m of investment

Transforming the job market

Social entrepreneurs struggle to get access to the right kind of finance and find sustainable revenue streams to scale up their social venture. Likewise, finding routes in to sell to the public sector is a significant challenge due to commissioning structures and commissioners’ low appetite for risk. A general lack of awareness around social entrepreneurship compounds these challenges.

Social entrepreneurs need to be seen as a legitimate and effective way of providing access to employment for those distant from the labour market.

Between 2017-2020 we will be addressing the challenges in four key ways:

  • Building a pipeline of social innovations which deliver employment-related services or actively create employment opportunities for people distant from the labour market. And supporting the social entrepreneurs behind these innovations.
  • Identifying and supporting around 85 social entrepreneurs to develop their social ventures into sustainable and scalable solutions (funded by partners – either through Thrive or our Impact fund).
  • Working closely with government, businesses, policy makers, employers and training providers to encourage the adoption of models, methodologies and solutions from our social entrepreneurs which our research has demonstrated are impactful and cost effective.
  • Running campaigns to build awareness, understanding and adoption of social entrepreneurs and their solutions.

Our programmes supporting access to employment

Alongside our focus areas we run award programmes. These are designed to attract award winners from particular areas such as geography, age range or background. They have the same model as our other awards.

online community


We host a series of events throughout the UK each year. From classes and conferences, seminars and workshops to networking events and training sessions.

Upcoming events

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Learning area

Looking for financial guidance? Want to sharpen your marketing skills? Access our range of guides in the learning area..

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