Teacake Club meeting review: Fri 15 Mar

Following a superb hot breakfast and a welcome introduction from the day’s compere, Phil Johnson of Opportunity Sheffield, Kate Liddle and Mina Salifu of PeoplePlus Academy welcomed attendees to the break-out area in Portland House. After a few housekeeping notifications – and intrusion from a lift engineer – they proceeded to highlight the provider’s range of courses and employability services, which include functional skills, distance learning and safeguarding, among other options.

Jade Bytheway of Sheffield Hallam University and Kelly Self of the Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP) were next to the stand to highlight efforts to support people at a disadvantage into the higher education system. They explained how the city’s universities are widening participation through outreach work, and invited providers to get in touch with referrals of people facing barriers to entry.

Opportunity Sheffield’s Roger Wilde introduced Chris Crawley of Intertrain, a railways-focused training provider seeking ex-offender referrals for a new Sheffield’s Working employability programme. In delivering the Railway Adult training Programme, the organisation is to help people aged 16+ enter the sector through a 15-day training programme. Chris was joined by Andy Kitchen of First Structure, who highlighted the recruitment opportunities – including guaranteed interviews – for people completing the programme.

Clare Coyne of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals spoke about the valuable opportunities for work experience and supported internships within the NHS for individuals for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). She shared her own personal experience as a parent of a child with Autism, who is now benefiting from an opportunity to gain exposure to workplace and learn role-modelling behaviour. Clare explained that there are potential opportunities across a variety of services within the NHS – almost any department with entry-level opportunities.

CTS Training’s Sally Griffin outlined her organisation’s 16-19 and Adult provisions, which involve working with a range of individuals – including pre-Level 1 learners – to develop employability skills through individually tailored plans. She highlighted the personal social development and employment routes available to candidates, which are designed to prepare people for the workplace, help overcome barriers and achieve progression.

Coach & Connector Sarah Stanley shared some of her top networking tips with attendees, highlighting some of the ways employability professionals can forge closer links with their peers and communicate more effectively. She advised that networkers can encourage others to know, like and trust them by focusing on how to help, thinking about giving rather than selling, following up on promises and connections, and personalising networking requests.

Ian Eccles, a recent addition to The Prince’s Trust team, introduced himself to the meeting and shared some of the charity’s current activities, including ‘Get Into’ and ‘Get Started’ programmes. He explained that the Prince’s Trust has broadened its focus from young people who are NEET, or at risk of being unemployed or out of education and training, acknowledging the reality that having a job does not necessarily provide security and affluence. Ian also drew attention to work ongoing in partnership with AMRC, which may appeal to young people interested in engineering or manufacturing.

Tim Jeffrey of The Growth Company delivered a presentation on the upcoming Skills Support for the Unemployed Project, which gets underway in April 2019. Referrals are being sought for a three-stage programme involving engagement, transition and progression stages. Tim explained that the not-for-profit organisation is seeking eligible 19+ candidates from Sheffield City Region’s priority groups to upskill in Priority Sectors.

The penultimate presentation came from Stephen Arundel of Opportunity Sheffield, who provided details of the new Building Block project, which will use CITB investment to provide upskilling and employment opportunities for hundreds of people in Sheffield over the next year. He also explained how Sheffield City Council’s Talent Sheffield programme works with construction stakeholders to create work experience, apprenticeships and paid employment opportunities for local people as organisation’s corporate social responsibility commitments.

Last but not least was Vanda Kewley, director of The Suit Works, who provided an update on the planned She Works project, to provide professional clothing for female interviewees. Funding, clothing donations and a suitable premises are still being sought for the intended rollout of the charity’s new female arm – Vanda hopes She Works will be able to launch later in 2019.

The meeting closed with additional time for networking and information sharing. Steve Sylvan of Crisis won first prize in the business card raffle, with Sarah Stanley (Coach & Connector) the runner-up and Tim Jeffrey (The Growth Company) 3rd.