- Special Educational Needs Pupils from across the Midlands taking part in programme to boost their employability
- Last year’s interns either got full time jobs or went on to further education.
- Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson MP, praises the scheme
Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson, has today (Monday 12 January 2015) praised a National Grid scheme to help young people with learning disabilities get into work.
EmployAbility – Lets Work Together” gives young people with a range of special educational needs a year’s internship with National Grid, gaining valuable work skills and exposure to the working environment.
Visiting the scheme today (Monday 12 January 2015) Edward Timpson said: “National Grid’s initiative fits in with what we are trying to achieve through our SEND reforms – to help children with additional needs to achieve their best by putting their needs at the centre of the system.
“It’s absolutely vital young people with SEND are supported in the transition to the workplace when they finish education. Too many talented young people have been left in limbo in the past. That’s why I want to see more supported internships and work placements like this to offer a first step onto the career ladder.”
This is a message supported by the FTSE 100 Utility company who are using the Minister’s visit to encourage more businesses to take up schemes offering internships to young people with special educational needs.
“EmployAbility, Let’s Work Together” was piloted last year and gave 5 young people from special schools in Warwick and Coventry a year in the workplace. Four are now working for the company in roles such as sustainability, customer liaison, IT and project support (with the fifth person going back into mainstream further education).The programme has been expanded to offer placements to a further 12 students in Warwickshire and Leicestershire with a view to raising this eventually to 20 across the company.
Taurai Horton (18), one of last year’s interns who now has a permanent role in the company, said: “People never thought I could make it in life. Being bullied for being autistic made me hate my condition and myself. This condition has affected me greatly and has always given me disadvantages.
“Being in ‘EmployAbility, Let’s Work together’ made me realise that anything is possible and that I can do things I never thought I could do. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m so thankful I got the chance.
“If there were more companies using models like this then people like me would be so much better off. EmployAbility has shown me that it doesn’t matter if you have autism or disabilities you still can do it. Now, I can dare to have ambition.”
Department for Education statistics state that students with learning disabilities have only a seven-per-cent likelihood of finding paid employment. The cost to the community of supporting someone who doesn’t get into employment through their life is £1 million per person.
Added to this are the costs and social impacts you can’t quantify - the individual who wants to contribute but doesn’t get a chance. National Grid’s EmployAbility programme is about doing just that - giving a chance to people who don’t always get one.
Dr Emma FitzGerald, Head of National Grid’s gas distribution business, where many of this year’s interns are working said: “So many companies will be inadvertently screening out young people with additional needs just by the way they run their recruitment processes. It’s not deliberate but it’s a barrier and one that can easily be addressed.
“The results we’ve seen from EmployAbility have been amazing. Students are quick to fit in to their job roles, their self-belief grows, as do their aspirations. Their National Grid internship is an important part of their CV and demonstrates that they can bring value to a business environment.
“What we’ve found is that not only do we have competent, engaged, committed young people working with us, but also our existing staff gain greater disability confidence and a real sense of pride that they’re working for a company that offers these kinds of opportunities. It’s encouraged them push the boundaries of what’s possible in their own careers and development. It’s absolutely been a mutually beneficial scheme.”
The programme has a simple but effective model minimising the impact on both the business and the student. National Grid identifies roles that an intern can fill while the special schools we partner with provide Job Coaches. The Coaches go into the business, learn the role, break it into component parts, train the intern and help them settle in. As the intern’s confidence grows, the Coach backs away. Each intern spends about three months in the role and will do three internships over their final academic year.
It’s this model that National Grid will be sharing with Edward Timpson MP, hoping to show how any company or SME could introduce a similar scheme into their business.
Emma FitzGerald added: “We’re keen to see EmployAbility expand and grow within National Grid but we also want to encourage other businesses to offer similar opportunities to young people with disabilities.”
EmployAbility involves current and former pupils from the following schools: Oak Wood Secondary School in Nuneaton, Warwickshire College Group of schools, Hereward College in Coventry, Round Oak School in Warwick, Dorothy Goodman School in Hinckley, Leicestershire
Taurai Horton (a former intern) and one of the National Grid EmployAbility team are available to do interviews. Contact Rebecca Watson on the numbers above for more details
For an interview with Edward Timpson MP please contact the Department for Education press office on 0207 340 8332 – Ext: 308332
To speak to the schools about their involvement in EmployAbility or the importance of employment experience to young people with disabiliites, please contact the schools directly.
Notes to editors - archive
National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world and was named Responsible Business of the Year 2014 by Business in the Community. This accolade acknowledges all of our efforts in getting involve with the things that really matter to us and to society. We own and manage the grids that connect people to the energy they need, from whatever the source. In Britain and the north-eastern states of the US we run systems that deliver gas and electricity to millions of people, businesses and communities.
In Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country. In the North Eastern US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles.
National Grid in the UK:
- We own the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales, operating it across Great Britain
- We own and operate the high pressure gas transmission system in Britain
- Our gas distribution business delivers gas to 10.9 million homes and businesses
- We also own a number of related businesses including LNG importation, land remediation and metering
- National Grid manages the National Gas Emergency Service free phone line on behalf of the industry - 0800 111 999 (all calls are recorded and may be monitored).
- Our portfolio of other businesses is mainly concerned with infrastructure provision and related services where we can exploit our core skills and assets to create value. These businesses operate in areas such as Metering, Grain LNG Import, Interconnectors and Property. National Grid Carbon Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of National Grid. It undertakes Carbon Capture Storage related activities on behalf of National Grid.
Find out more about the energy challenge and how National Grid is helping find solutions to some of the challenges we face at www.nationalgridconnecting.com
National Grid undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this release, which speaks only as at the date of this release, unless required by law or regulation.