Cosmic are the first of our employers to host young people on ‘World-class Work Experience’ accredited placements through Industrial Cadets as part of our pilot study. Both Bethany and Josh were awarded their Silver Level certificates which detail the programme they undertook, assure the quality of the experience against national standards and add to their sense of achievement. Cosmic believe in investing in young people and developing talent. They already run very successful and sought after work experience placements but these are the first as part of this pilot study. Thank you!
Josh Elliot-Smith from Uffculme School said:
Doing work experience at Cosmic has been a really interesting yet a challenging week for me. I’ve found throughout that I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, and have come out the other side with new ideas and skills that I never would’ve thought I would get out of this week , and I’m sure will benefit me in the future. I would definitely recommend doing your work experience at Cosmic if you’re interested in any area of IT2.
Bethany Jacobs from Honiton Community College said:
My work experience at Cosmic has been so enjoyable. I have achieved so many new and different skills meanwhile improving in my weaker areas. Everyone has been so nice, welcoming and helpful throughout this week. I really enjoyed this week and this has given me an insight to my future. I recommend Cosmic to students wanting to develop their skills in business and IT for their work experience.
The experience of quality Work Experience is invaluable. We know that the more real-life experiences of the world-of-work young people have the less likely they are to have difficulty entering the work-place. Work Experience brings benefits to the young people, the host employers and us all in the longer -term. This pilot will consider the value of the Industrial Cadets nationally recognised accreditation to the young people and the employers.
Inspiration – Business Benefits and Positive Teams!
Ros Banfield, Equality & Employability Support Officer from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (top left in photograph) inspired all the participants of our ‘Tap into Top Talent’ Employer Breakfast on 5th July at the lovely Hannahs, Seale Hayne. Eight young people with learning disabilities from the local area have just graduated from the ground-breaking Project SEARCH internship scheme based at Torbay Hospital. Project SEARCH aims to remove the significant barriers faced by people with learning disabilities looking for employment and has had success all over the world. The business benefits a real desire to work, enjoyment of routine tasks, low absenteeism and especially for those living with autism close attention to detail and good levels of concentration. The positive impact of Project SEARCH has spread to the teams in which the interns work where mentoring, coaching and team identity improve and people ‘just seem sunnier’. This is the fourth year it has been delivered in Torbay by South Devon College, local social enterprise Pluss and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
Practical Support and funding for individuals and businesses
Carolyn Horton and Jason Creed from the Department of Work and Pensions encouraged participants to consider the ‘Access to Work’ grant (up to £40,800 per year) to help with practical support to enable those with a disability to start or stay in work. The amount of the grant depends on need and eligibility but it can be used for taxi fares to work, adaptation or purchase of equipment, disability awareness training for colleagues or a workplace coach.
Marise Mackie from Pluss spoke enthusiastically about ‘Work Choice’ which is a government national programme delivered in this area by Pluss an organisation where people of all abilities are inspired and helped to achieve a career. Work Choice is for young people with disabilities between the ages of 18-24 and it can provide between £1137.50 and £2,275 per person to employers depending upon eligibility.
Thinking about Equality & Employment Law
Bethan Jones, from Michelmores provides HR support and advice on the full range of employment law issues, including unfair dismissal, redundancy, disciplinary and grievance procedures and HR policies and contracts. She was kind enough to talk about the key points to think about when employing individuals with Learning Disabilities and Difficulties and she helped to alleviate some of the concerns participants may have had.
A place where disability is incidental
Debbie Slurman from Hannahs joined us to give us a potted history of Dame Hannah Rogers Charity which was founded in 1767 in Plymouth. Evolving through time the aim has been simple: to help enrich and empower the lives of children and adults in need. Debbie was inspirational. Although she confessed to not being practiced at the art of public speaking she had all participants wanting to know more and soak up her energy.
It makes so much sense …
The Employment and Skills Board believes in a ‘local world-class workforce where every individual matters’. Apart from being the right thing to do, enabling people with Learning Disabilities and Difficulties or those living with Autism to work makes so much sense when we have almost full employment and individuals who really want to work and contribute. Marise, Carolyn and Jason endorsed everything Ros said about the benefits to the workplace, the positive responses from the wider community and jobs well done.
We are grateful to Devon County Council for funding this event and we look forward to more ‘Untapped Talent’ events and positive outcomes in other locations!
Apprenticeships for people with learning disabilities
Work Experience enables young people to sample careers, get a real sense of a particular work sector, to demonstrate their interest and passion for the area and to get a general introduction to the world of work. We know that young people who have Work Experience are more likely to be successful in their job search, but often the quality of the Work Experience depends upon factors other than interest and motivation. Sometimes Work Experience Placements are the result of parental contacts, second preferences and the ‘luck of the draw’. Employers who host Work Experience placements vary too. Some employers see the advantage of show-casing their sector or their organisation, of talent-spotting and of Corporate Social Partnership, whilst others squeeze-in something less than the best or do not participate at all. Where Work Experience works it makes a huge difference to the young person and benefits the business too.
At this stage our employers are each meeting with Industrial Cadets and Education Business Partnership SW to plan and accredit each Work Experience opportunity and to ensure that the necessary insurances and paperwork are in place. Once the placements are agreed they will be offered to young people in our pilot schools for young people to start the application process. Although Industrial Cadets has its roots in STEM industries we are piloting it across our complete range of employer members.
The Industrial Cadets Silver Award accreditation offers clear advantages to the young people and to their hosts as all join the Industrial Cadets Online Network with advice and tools for during and after the placement, including advertising work opportunities. Each young person who successfully completes their Work Experience receives, among other things, a certificate which details their experiences and achievements.
Our employers are enthusiastic about holding a joint graduation ceremony of all our World-class Work Experience Industrial Cadets silver award graduates in June 2016.
Once the pilot is completed we will be in a position to consider growing the scheme in more ways than one!
Further good news! Just three weeks after completing the ten day intensive REEP programme three young people have already started work and continue to be touch with their volunteer mentors. Charlie, 22, from Cowick was the first to be offered an opportunity to work for an IT company in Pynes Hill. Jemima, 19, from Exeter, is now very happily working at a café, where the owners look after her really well. Whilst working, Jemima is looking at ways of accessing University to do a Midwifery course.
On Saturday we heard that Amy who was particularly lacking in confidence has been offered a job in the tourist industry at Crealy which is regarded as the South West’s number one family day out. Amy’s story is particularly inspiring as her first interview with Crealy coincided with day one of the REEP programme and she did not get the job. Her lack of self-confidence was the main barrier. Nevertheless, despite initially feeling crushed by this news, Amy picked herself up and battled on during the next 10 days of the programme, gaining in confidence and learning presentation and interview techniques. At the end of the programme Craig Clews Assistant General Manager at Crealy Park came to the REEP presentation day and was really impressed by Amy. Craig gave Amy his business card so that she could email him and reapply for the job. This culminated in her achieving her goal.
Craig Clews, Assistant General Manager at Devon’s Crealy Great Adventure Park said: “It was a real pleasure to attend the REEP presentation day and I’m delighted that Amy got in contact with me. We’re thrilled that she’ll be joining the Crealy Crew. We’re always on the search for new talent, especially those with a ‘Can Do’ attitude and Amy showed just that. We are fortunate to be able to offer flexible working in a fun environment at Crealy. New members of the team will join us for our biggest and best year to date.”
Sandra, Amy’s volunteer mentor is particularly delighted that Amy’s determination and goal setting has reaped such positive rewards. Sandra said “Amy was devastated when she was initially unsuccessful at her first interview at Crealy, this shows how empowering this 10 day programme is and how her renewed confidence and skills have resulted in such a positive outcome for Amy”. Sandra will continue to be in contact with Amy as she settles in to her new role at Crealy Park. But the last word, for now, should be from Amy “I’m really excited to have been given this opportunity. Crealy looks like such an exciting place to work and I look forward to being part of the Crealy Crew and embarking on this new adventure.”
Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board is an independent body and voice for employers, aiming to improve employment across Devon and beyond.