Employability Day 2022: How Opportunity Sheffield’s Emily builds employability skills in schools

Written by Emily Hornblower, Apprenticeship Adviser, Opportunity Sheffield

Emily Hornblower, IAG/Apprenticeship Adviser

My name is Emily and I work for Sheffield City Council as an apprenticeship adviser within the Opportunity Sheffield team. I’ve been in this role now for around two and a half years, prior to which I was a primary school teacher, so taking this role was a big change in direction for my career.

Opportunity Sheffield is the Employment and Skills service in Sheffield City Council, so our team focus on different ways to support Sheffield residents with accessing the labour market. My role specifically focuses on school and college leavers and how I can support them to enter the job market for the very first time via apprenticeships and traineeships. 

One of the ways that I do that is to run workshops in schools, helping students from Y10 upwards with things like recognising and developing their employability skills, speaking to them about what apprenticeships, traineeships and T Levels are, supporting them to write CVs and supporting them in searching for apprenticeships. My role within the team means that I have a good insight into what employers are looking for in candi

I also support students on a 1:1 basis, giving them more bespoke and tailored advice throughout the summer on their chosen career path. This allows me to share relevant vacancies with individuals, give them advice on how to improve their applications or sometimes just listen to them vent about how challenging they are finding their search.

Even just in the past few years that I have been doing this job, apprenticeships are a growing choice for young people and there is an increased awareness of the diversity of job roles available to them. It’s my experience that more and more of the students interested in apprenticeships have a better understanding of what it takes to get offered a job and are viewing them as the competitive option that they are.

Each year, I organise our Apprenticeships: Be Inspired event in the city, which invites employers from a range of local businesses to come along and meet students who are seeking apprenticeships over the summer. I take great pride in being involved with such a unique event that offers a valuable opportunity for young people to interact with real employers, often for the first time, and really experience what that is like. Many students have secured apprenticeships because of this event, and for many it gives them an insight into the skills and qualities employers are looking for.

Finally, I have been supporting on the delivery of our Futureproof project this year. Futureproof is a programme that combines work experience and classroom-based project work, with employers setting projects for students to work on and present back to them at the end of the week. The programme revolves around employability skills and developing these through the project. Skills such as teamwork, communication, time management and problem solving are all central to each project set and the students are required to demonstrate these to be successful in creating a final presentation.

We know how fundamental the development of these key skills is, especially for young people with little or no work history, in accessing the job market. I believe that through supporting the development of employability skills with school students, services like ours really do make a difference in helping young people get their first foot on the ladder.

Emily Hornblower, IAG/Apprenticeship Adviser