Lord Mayor’s thumbs up for award-winning Cadent scheme that gives students the chance to shine in the workplace

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  • Lord Mayor of Coventry gives pioneering career scheme the VIP seal of approval
  • Cadent scheme springboards students from local special schools into jobs, apprenticeships and a coveted college place
  • Plea for more companies in the region to offer opportunities for students with learning needs
 
An award-winning internship scheme by Coventry-based gas network Cadent has won the VIP seal of approval from the city’s Lord Mayor, Councillor John Blundell.
 
Students from Exhall Grange School in Ash Green, Oak Wood School in Nuneaton and Coleshill’s Woodlands School have landed jobs, apprenticeships and coveted college places thanks to Cadent’s ‘EmployAbility – Let’s Work Together’, a supported internship programme.
 
Councillor Blundell joined the celebrations at Cadent’s Prologis Business Park offices, near Holbrooks, on Thursday evening (19 July) as the teenagers graduated from the year-long scheme and are taking their first steps into the world of work and further education.
 
Councillor Blundell said: “Well done to these young people who have worked so hard over the last year. It is so inspiring to meet young people who aspire to make something of themselves and achieve their dreams. I would like to thank Cadent and GefCo for their involvement in this very commendable scheme. EmployAbility is an example to others.”
 
Cadent Financial Controller Julian Allsopp, who has championed the scheme at Coventry, said: “EmployAbility is about breaking down barriers and finding opportunities for young people with disabilities or learning needs to develop, grow and ultimately find full-time employment. For us it is really rewarding to see our interns develop and grow into skilled and employable young people. They have brought so much to our workplace – we have learned as much from them as they have from us.”
 
This year was the first year Cadent has run the scheme at its Coventry site and neighbours GefCo pitched in to help, providing an internship position at their premises. Cadent is urging more employers to join and give young people with learning needs greater opportunities.
 
Exhall Grange’s Sophie Greathead has landed a job with Cadent’s Human Resources Department. Fellow student Liam Wright will take up an apprenticeship with Cadent’s facilities management provider 14Forty, while Megan Blackwell has secured a part-time job in catering with 14Forty.
 
“The internship has really improved my confidence, talking to new people and learning new skills. I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to all the teams I’ve worked with. I’ve got a full-time position with HR in Cadent which is really great,” said Sophie.
 
Woodlands School’s Richard Spedding has been offered a job with Amazon’s BHX4 Warehouse, while fellow student Niall Molloy will be heading off the Hereward College in Coventry to study Sports.
 
Richard said: “The internship has definitely boosted my confidence and my workplace skills. I will take this experience with me into the future, keeping in mind all the many ways that the staff I have worked with have shown their dedication to this gallant cause.”
 
Two students from Nuneaton’s Oak Wood Secondary School are also celebrating landing jobs after graduating from the EmployAbility scheme at Cadent’s sister site in Hinckley.
 
18-year-old Natasha Hope has begun a full-time apprenticeship with Nuneaton-based British Forces Resettlement Services, while Alix Wildbore, 18, has been offered a full-time post with Cadent contractor Pertemps, working in Cadent’s Street Works Administration Department at its offices in Hinckley.
 
Natasha said: “I wanted to join this scheme so I could grow my confidence and my work skills. It has made a massive difference to me. Without this internship I don’t think I would be where I am now – employed by British Forces Resettlement Services.”
 
Alix added: “I loved learning new computer systems. My confidence and my computer skills have increased and my mum says I’ve really matured since being at Cadent!”
 
Cadent is one of only a handful of UK companies with a specially designed strategy to help students with learning needs gain job skills.
 
EmployAbility has been running for four years at Cadent’s sister site in Hinckley, with over 70% of interns moving from the scheme into paid work. According to the Department for Education, students with learning disabilities have only a 6.8 per cent likelihood of find paid employment while just 16% of autistic adults are estimated to be in full-time employment, according the National Autistic Society.
 
EmployAbility offers year-long internships to young people with learning needs and disabilities. The programme builds their confidence, gives them valuable skills and boosts their chances of landing jobs and college places. The scheme gives interns experience working in a number of roles. These include facilities management, IT and communications, catering, human resources, procurement and reception.
 
Earlier this year Cadent was named ‘Most Supportive Employer’ by the National Autistic Society.

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Sara Wilcox

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