In 2017, we looked at our cohort of vulnerable young adults and designed a programme originally called the Accompanied Work Placement programme, organising a pilot group of 15 of our students across a range of Year groups from 10 to year 13+. The programme was highly successful with 93% progressing to a college of further education to study vocational options. However, as the statistics show, very few wanted to or felt confident to undertake supported work experience.
In 2020 we established that at least 57.1% of our SEND/SEMH student placements were suitable for the Accompanied Work Placement programme but the students did not necessarily want to participate in the work experience element of the course. We understood that gaining meaningful work experience is a difficult concept for most of the young people we work with, not because of their difficulties or disabilities, but simply because of their low self-confidence, nominal aspiration for their future, and lack of self-belief in their abilities.
Following lockdown and various constraints we faced throughout the pandemic we had the opportunity to re-vamp the programme. We set about revising the structure to address some of the barriers our young adults faced, in order to promote and secure supported workplace opportunities. We targeted activities and programme content to ensure that we provided a stronger focus on the development of core transferable skills to prepare for adulthood and secure economic well-being. Through evaluating the content, we recognised that developing employability skills alone was not sufficient for a student to necessarily be successful in gaining and maintaining employment, and that a vital part of the learner’s journey should include targeted support to fully equip the student with the understanding of how to apply and transfer these skills into the workplace and, more importantly, throughout their adult life.
By listening to views expressed by our students, parents/carers, Commissioners, and stakeholders involved, we were able to modify the programme to address the four key areas of Preparing for Adulthood, re-directing the focus to meet EHCP outcomes. The transformation of both structure and content further increased openings for project-based and community learning where the student could develop core skills vital to prepare for next steps, with frequent opportunities to practise, overlearn, model, and recognise how to apply skills in the workplace and into life as a young adult.
Developing employability skills of SEND students is, and will remain, an essential part of our work. Bringing together the ideas and experiences from a range of students, parents/carers and Commissioners has enabled us to gain new insights into how we can meet this purpose, and re-shape policy developments. The revised programme, Careers, Employability, & Independence programme (CEIP) provides one-to-one person-centred interventions, guidance, advice, and holistic support to advocate skills that enable them to increase opportunities to become employable. To inspire and change mindsets of potential employers, and bring together an increase in confidence, self-belief, and resilience, all of which are fundamental for each young adult to achieve successful transition into the world of work and gain long term financial and emotional well-being.
If you have a young person who would benefit from the Careers, Employability & Independence Programme, click here to get in touch with us today.