In celebration of Women's History Month, we spoke with Kathryn Jellings, Director of Business Development at 3SC, a social enterprise that specialises in building supply chains for SMEs in the employability sector. We discussed her journey, the work of 3SC, building partnerships, technology's role, and a Welsh female figure who has inspired her.
Q: Firstly welcome to Earlybird chats in Women’s History Month. Can you tell us about your journey so far in the employability sector?
Thank you! I’m honoured to be chatted to.
One of my earliest jobs was working for the Welsh Development Agency in the IT training team, this sparked my passion for learning and development and L&D has been a big part of every job I’ve done since. When a front-line adviser role came up with A4e, I thought it sounded just perfect for me and I had a great time working with people on ‘Pathways’ - mainly working with those on health related benefits and I went on to work on some great national initiatives.
I’ve stepped outside Employability a few times, most notably joining a law firm at one stage – which certainly taught me a lot and developed my entrepreneurial spirit before coming ‘home’ to 3SC, where I have been for almost 10 years.
At 3SC I have been involved with or responsible for around 30 different programmes including Jobs Growth Wales, Work Programme, Access to Work, Parental Employment, Post Work Programme Support, some lovely Social Impact Bonds and most recently Coaching Programmes for people who are neurodiverse.
Q: 3SC is a social enterprise with almost 14 years of social impact. Can you tell us more about the work they do in the employability space?
3SC is a social enterprise that has proven success and expertise in building supply chains for SMEs, primarily in third-sector organisations, to deliver quality public services. 3SC’s vision for SMEs is to increase public services and a greater amount of social impact.
To achieve our vision we manage and win contracts on behalf of SMEs, focusing on voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations using a mutually beneficial collaborative and partnership-based business model. 3SC’s principal activity is public service delivery but we also offer other services including a membership program all of which have a clear social impact.
Our passion shines through what we do and we know that by working closely with small organisations who are embedded in their communities, we can produce amazing results. 3SC has always specialised in employability programmes and I’ve had the opportunity to work on most of them! In the last few years we’ve become a leading supplier of neurodiversity services and are working with Primes, DWP and MOJ currently.
Q: Having been to one of the IEP webinars you hosted, I know you are passionate about organisations in the employability sector building great partnerships. How can we better facilitate that?
I think there’s lots I could say on this (an hour long webinar in fact!!) but in a few bullet points, my advice would be:
1. Be brave – try new things, work with new partners and be open to opportunities.
2. Don’t keep doing what you’ve always done.
3. Start a group of likeminded organisations, share resources/costs and help each other, pool ideas/staff/etc.
4. Put your ideas out there and see what gets picked up
5. Find bigger organisations to partner with – LinkedIn is great for this.
6. Join the 3SC membership!
You recently became an IEP Fellow - congratulations. What value does the IEP bring to you and the sector?
Thank you. I really enjoy the IEP events – the Summit is a particularly great one. I like the way that the IEP is inclusive to people at all stages of their careers in the sector. It's great that in just one place you have such a wide variety of organisations - tiny ones and worldwide companies all working to achieve the same outcomes - there’s something really amazing about that.
Q: What role do you think technology can play moving forward?
There has been a massive shift in technology in the last few years and I hope it continues. I returned from maternity leave and the world of work had transformed from what I knew before. I only hope that vulnerable people who access these services do so without having to retell their circumstances to every ‘professional’, as this must be tedious and frustrating when they are trying to access help.
Government departments coming together to join up data and systems would be great - and they could fund a few more of our programmes too.
Q: As it’s Women’s History Month, what female figure has most inspired you and why?
I live in Cardiff and one local woman that was fascinating and wonderful was Betty Campbell, she faced multiple forms of discrimination and started training to be a teacher in the 1960s whilst bringing up 3 kids. She became Wales’ first black Headteacher. Her work still has a real impact where I live. There is a brilliant statue to honour her by Cardiff Central Station.
Q: If you had a magic wand and could make one change for the sector in 2023 what would it be?
UKSPF (UK Share Prosperity Fund)! I think we’d need a lot of magic wands to fix that one.