Every career starts with that first job opportunity.
For young people across the country, finding a job has become increasingly more difficult since the coronavirus outbreak. And for those with learning difficulties and learning disabilities, the challenge of finding a job existed long before the pandemic.
He recently began working with Knowsley Council on a programme headed up by Sue Temple-Fielding, ‘Meet the Employee’ which aims to raise aspirations around employment and the benefits of having a job for young people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities.
As part of her role, Sue also works with businesses to secure supported employment opportunities and supported internship placements for young adults with learning difficulties and learning disabilities.
Sue realised at the beginning of the pandemic that her usual approach to seeking out placements for these young people would have to change. It was time to take things digital.
Instead of in-person visits to schools and educational institutions, employers now share a video about their work, that young people can respond to with their own questions. This is then followed by a Zoom Q&A. Nick feels both parties benefit from this new approach:
I just felt it was a real opportunity to share the kind of information young people need to hear before they move onto the world of work, everybody has something to bring to a business, regardless of learning difficulties or background, all young people deserve that chance.
According to Sue, the young people have really engaged with the new way of doing things. Commenting on when some young people interviewed Nick:
“They loved speaking with Nick. He received plenty of questions, and the students were very curious about his journey” shared Sue.
“Nick is also really keen to get involved with projects in the future. The way we apply for jobs has changed dramatically – so many interviews now take place via Zoom, and we don’t have the usual face to face contact so it’s really important we have that employer perspective to support students through this.”
It’s time to take action
It can be tricky to visualise your place in the world of work, before having real-world job experience. But as Nick explained, employers can play a vital role in supporting young people with learning difficulties as they enter the workplace.
We often talk about corporate social responsibility, but it can’t just be a box ticking exercise. In order to make a real impact – for employers and the younger generation – we need to be proactive. These young people have so much value to offer. It’s up to us as employers to get out there and engage with them.”