- Dorothy Goodman students set to pursue their career dreams thanks to Cadent’s life-changing EmployAbility scheme
- Students made an ‘immense contribution’ to Cadent’s business
- Calls for more companies in the region to offer opportunities for students with learning needs
Four students from Hinckley’s Dorothy Goodman Academy are climbing the first rungs of the career ladder – thanks to a life-changing initiative by local gas network operator, Cadent.
Amy Taylor, Kyle Morris, Chris Sheen and Abbie Morris are set to pursue careers as varied as performing arts, vehicle maintenance and carpentry after graduating from Hinckley-based Cadent’s pioneering EmployAbility internship scheme. The quartet toasted their success at a graduation event at Cadent’s Brick Kiln Street offices in Hinckley.
Amy said: “I wanted to do my college course but I felt I needed more confidence before I went to a big college where I didn’t know anyone. All the teams I’ve been with at Cadent have been really caring and supportive and my confidence has grown loads. I wouldn’t have been able to go to college without EmployAbility.”
At 17 Kyle is the youngest intern to have joined the scheme since it started four years ago. He added: “I have more confidence in myself and I’ve gained knowledge of complex computer systems. During the placements I was able to meet and work with new people, learning new tasks and being able to work in different departments.”
Amy has landed a coveted place studying Performing Arts and Drama at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College in Nuneaton. Kyle has enrolled on a vehicle and body repair course with North Warwickshire and Hinckley College but is also on the look-out for an apprenticeship.
Meanwhile, fellow interns Chris Sheen and Abbie Morris are making their first forays into the world of further education, having both enrolled on the Foundation Learning Course at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, Nuneaton.
Janet Thompson, Headteacher of Dorothy Goodman Academy, said: “Cadent has revolutionised the opportunities for our young people. Over the last four years many of our young people have been employed as a result of this programme; others have gone to college to pursue other career paths but it has given all of them the belief to aspire and pursue their dreams.”
Two students from Nuneaton’s Oak Wood Secondary School, Natasha Hope and Alix Wildbore, also graduated from the scheme at Hinckley.
Now in its fourth year, Cadent’s ‘EmployAbility – Let’s Work Together’ programme offers internships to young people with learning needs and disabilities. The programme builds their confidence, gives them valuable skills and boosts their chances of landing college places and employment.
Cadent’s Dave Tilley, who has championed the scheme at Hinckley, said: “EmployAbility creates an opportunity young people to develop and display talents that might previously have been undiscovered. This year’s interns have made an immense contribution to Cadent’s success in key parts of our business.
“We hope that other businesses will see the worth in giving young people a chance to shine in the work place and offer the same opportunities.”
Sophie Woolham, who leads the implementation of the scheme at Hinckley, added: “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. EmployAbility acts as a springboard, giving young people the confidence to follow their dreams – whether it’s a job, an apprenticeship or a college course.”
More interns from Dorothy Goodman Academy will be joining the scheme at the end of August.
EmployAbility scheme works by giving interns experience working in a number of roles. These include data collection, IT and communications, catering, the post room and working on reception.
The interns are supported by job coach Louise Green, from Dorothy Goodman Academy. 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 6.8% 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.