- Oak Wood students land jobs and a college place in life-changing scheme
- Students graduate from Cadent’s pioneering EmployAbility internship initiative
- Calls for more companies in the region to give opportunities to youngsters with learning needs
Three young students from Nuneaton’s Oak Wood School have landed jobs and a coveted college place – thanks to a life-changing initiative by local gas network Cadent.
Graduating from Hinckley-based Cadent’s EmployAbility internship scheme, Jordan, Ryan and Liam are taking their first steps into the world of paid work and further education.
Jordan and Liam have landed jobs at Cadent’s Brick Kiln Street offices in Hinckley, while Ryan has won a college place and a work experience position with a gardening and landscaping company.
Now in its third year, Cadent’s ‘EmployAbility – Let’s Work Together’ programme offers internships to young people with learning needs and disabilities, giving them valuable skills and boosting their employment prospects. More interns from Oak Wood School will be joining the scheme in September.
Cadent’s Dave Tilley, who has championed the scheme at Hinckley, said: “This year’s interns have been absolutely phenomenal. They have brought so much to our business and it has been so rewarding to have seen their confidence, self-esteem and sense of achievement grow”.
Sophie Woolham leads the implementation of the scheme at Hinckley and explained that it enables people to discover talents that otherwise might never have been realised.
“Cadent is benefiting from skills that we don’t often find in our usual talent pools, as well as developing leadership qualities and improving disability comfort amongst our colleagues.
"We’re delighted that Jake and Alec will be staying on with us and to see Josh and Liam embark on their college careers. We hope that other businesses will see the worth in giving young people a chance to shine in the work place and join the scheme,” she said.
George Smith, Headteacher of Oak Wood School, added: “It is so important in special schools to give young people the opportunities to reach their aspirations. It has been fantastic to see the rise in our students’ self-esteem and confidence as they have progressed through their internships, which wouldn’t have happened without EmployAbility.
“These are life-changing opportunities and as a school we absolutely value the bond we have with Cadent.”
EmployAbility scheme works by giving interns experience working in a number of roles. These include data collection, IT and communications, catering, reprographics, the post room and working on reception.
The interns are supported by job coach Gail Thompson, from Oak Wood School. She works with the business to learn the job roles and then supports the students to do the work, before gradually stepping back and letting the interns do the job for themselves.
Cadent is one of only a handful of UK companies with a specially designed strategy to help students with learning disabilities. However, the company is aware that there is a limit to how many opportunities it can offer and more companies are needed in Leicestershire and the East Midlands to join EmployAbility and build on its achievements.
The aim is to help the interns improve their prospects of paid employment or further education. So far more than 70% of the interns have moved from the scheme into paid employment. This compares with Department for Education statistics that show 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 find work through their life is £1 million per person.