In Leah’s World…

Leah fell into Growing Talent as a Graduate in the Summer of 2015.  On Graduation she secured a work experience placement with JobCentre Plus.  She accompanied a JCP manager to the employer selection day to help out and ended up being interviewed and given a placement!


During her employment journey she has gone from receptionist to managing a multi-client building to running events and now manages two staff in delivering monthly newsletters, facts, challenges on a different subject in the world of mental health to 6 partner companies!


More importantly on a personal level she had never been abroad before.  Since the Summer of 2015 when she joined Growing Talent she has been to Italy, France, Spain & Portugal – three times!


The power of working!


Remember opportunities can come from unexpected events…………

Holistic Week – Growing Talent…..

This is the ‘soft skills’ section of Growing Talent’s 12 week programme.  Usually carried out halfway through.  It’s a time for the Growing Talent Associates to meet up again and encourage each other face-to-face as well as learn some wellbeing techniques and ‘kick back’ a little from their usual work timetable!


We returned to Southwark Cathedral were we held the Orientation Week back in early February!  At least no more presentations before senior managers!

So what did we cover?:

Monday – parts 1 & s of Mental Health First Aid – a global course resulting in a qualification as a MHFAider.  This is an intense four part global programme so we lightened the learning a little with Lesley’s 3Rs!


Lesley, seen above, is part of the Health & Safety team at PwC.  Her 3Rs are Refuel, Recycle and  Refresh. It’s all about what to eat, how much sleep, exercise all the usual things we need to consider when making choices.  It’s especially difficult doing this on a strict budget!

‘I got a lot of information which I’ll put into practice!’ ‘Another important segment that allowed growth within the unknown.’

Tuesday – saw parts 3 and 4 of the MHFA programme be completed.  This time, Healthy Bites  Nutrition was sandwiched  between the two sections.  This invaluable workshop by Kate from HBN ( dispels myths around diets, the latest fads and new guidelines – such as only 7 tsp of sugar a day.  Kate shares the cost savings in making your own food, cost comparison and ingredients as well as how to eat quickly prepared nutritious meals on a budget!


Kate below preparing the Associates for making their own Pot Noodle!


A good workshop for sustaining health both in and out of work” ” I know what food groups are now!’


Sharing why recycling waste is so important was Dan from Suez, on the left below, on Wednesday.  This got everyone thinking.  A quick roundtable showed the difference between residential recycling across boroughs.  Indeed one of the Associates who has never recycled was inspired to go through her bins!



Thursday we talked finance.  Covering the basics we should know around debt, regular payments budgets, and so on. It’s surprising how well received this workshop is but on reflection maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising.  After all, where do you learn this stuff if you don’t have supportive, informed parents? Does the Education system have the time to do this?


‘The 3 x thirds will be really useful’, ‘I learnt about saving money and ISAs – really useful when we start earning’, ‘this was the most important topic covered for me’ ‘I learnt how to plan ahead’ ‘One million % worth it.  I understand now how to be financially stable.’

In the afternoon it was off to do an Art project!  Terrifying for some!  Their task was to visit Tate Gallery in Bankside and select an item that ‘spoke’ to them.  This could be in a good or bad way.


Left to right above inside the Tate are Mokhtar, Leon, Zainab, Ilamathy, Stefan, Ashley, Sebastien & John.


Friday morning we had a good discussion on their visit to the Tate, why they selected their piece of art and what they would ask the artist……… then they had to draw it!  You can see the results in the feature photo.  So much laughter in the room.  For some it ignited a childhood love of drawing for others it opened their eyes to a possible new creative way to feed their soul during lunchtime break and outside of work.


After some paperwork we finished up the week at lunchtime.They guys presented me with a lovely gift before going home for a well deserved break!


On Monday they returned to their employer sites:  Zainab, Ashley & Mokhtar – Harrow Green, Craig, John & Ashling – Iron Mountain – Ashling had to work this week, Leon – Pertemps, Ilamathy – Red Personnel, Stefan – Mitie Connect and Sebastien at Invest In Buy To Let.


Who teaches work ethics?

Yesterday, the Metro featured a disturbing piece on graduates leaving university without basic workplace ethics i.e. the soft skills essential for life long employment.

Basic skills such as teamwork, problem solving are missing along with the work ethic soft skills – timekeeping, attendance, communication etc.


A spokesman for higher education said schools should teach this.  Schools would probably say the reverse – it’s Uni or parents’ responsibilities.


So in all of this buck passing, who should and is equipped to teach this?


There isn’t a one size solution to this problem.  Many young people from diverse backgrounds aren’t aware of these soft skills whether from a dysfunctional or privileged background.  The fact is this simple area of employability skills can prevent someone getting a job, keeping it and growing it into a career.


I encountered a graduate who was outwardly very confident, with strong communication skills but no idea where flirting stopped and sexual harassment took over!  Her work in the role was excellent but her communication in the workplace makes the whole team feel uncomfortable.  What she doesn’t realise is a claim can come from anyone in the office or someone passing through it.


Another person had the importance of attendance and sickness explained to them and the consequences on the team, business and her prospects of securing the permanent job.  Having attended just half the days she should have due to sickness.   Silly reasons like having had a Friday off for a stomach bug, been fine over the weekend and then get another bug on the Monday doesn’t look great to the employer.  Now on her final chance – will she take on board the guidance given?  We wait to see……..


A key missing point is JobCentre Plus.  In general, everyone – graduate or not – will be a client of JobCentre Plus before going into work.  Maybe this would be the best area to focus on these essential soft employability skills?


Remember when hiring in the traditional recruitment way – you won’t usually have exposure to someone’s ‘soft skills’.  Maybe a trial period like would help?







Employers sign-up for Growing Talent 13!

My thanks to Amrik of Pertemps for the feature photo – which I have borrowed for this post……..


Now half way through Growing Talent 12, we are open for Growing Talent 13!


So far confirmed employers include Red Personnel, Iron Mountain, Pertemps & Baxter Storey.  All have been impressed with their current Growing Talent Associates and are keen to recruit more!


If you are an employer with permanent jobs, why not give it a try?  No fees to pay!  What have you got to loose?

#See Potential

#SeePotential is a Government backed campaign to get more people into work who have difficult backgrounds.   These include long-term unemployed people, ex-offenders, care leavers, recovering addicts, homeless people, single parents and military veterans.  Usually aimed at the 16-24 age group.


I attended an event on this subject yesterday at a City law firm.  Expectations were high.  The Minister for Employment, Damian Hinds, was present along with numerous charities and the employers some had worked with.


M&S partners The Princes Trust and spoke about their decade plus programme of work experience lasting 4-6 weeks which has seen 50% officially into work.


KFC & Dame Kelly Holmes Trust presented their two week work experience.  They take 16 young people at a time aged 16-24 which results in 5 into jobs at a time.


Drive Forward, a charity working with under 24 – mainly care leavers, said cvs were problematic for someone with a dysfunctional background and called for a more innovative, inclusive way.


The Minister of course did not stay for the whole event.  Which is a shame.  He may have learnt some of the issues.


The thoughts I had were:

Why were there no employers not already involved in equal and diverse recruitment present

What happens to the people who don’t secure jobs on these programme?

How long do those who do secure jobs, stay in them on these programme?

How can a short foundation of work experience without training in soft skills deliver      sustainable employment?


This event could be viewed as a missed opportunity.  There was no addressing the issues that affect all parties and therefore no discussion on possible resolutions.  No new employers to engage with.


I am very proud that every person selected on Growing Talent has:

  1. A permanent, provisional job offer at the start
  2. Orientation week – to build confidence before going on site
  3. Upto 10 weeks full-time training in the vacant role
  4. Holistic week covering personal finance, fitness, nutrition and well being
  5. Three robust manuals for onward learning
  6. The average time in employment is 2 years before moving on.
  7. 100% percent who complete secure a permanent job


I have worked on inclusive employment since 2004.  During that time I have interacted with several leading charities.  There are a number of issues I found which include:


Charities are funded by specific regions and therefore focussed on this area alone.  They won’t refer anyone into a programme where they will not be able to draw the cash incentive from their contract.


Charities often want to charge you a fee to ‘train’ you in dealing with their clients!


Charities often don’t know everything about their clients.  All of whom are also JobCentre Plus clients.  Having documentation and clearance to work in the UK doesn’t mean that person has the right to the public purse – i.e. benefits.  An employer can have a situation where they start a training programme and someone has to leave because their benefits have stopped.


Charities are sometimes funded by JobCentre Plus to get someone into work.  This means there can sometimes be quite a lot of negotiation when neither side wants to pay for travel/clothes etc.  Understandable on the JobCentre’s part as they’ve already paid the charity.


To me, it’s a ‘no brainer’ for employers to recruit through Growing Talent.  It doesn’t cost them anything and they know everything about their new talent before hiring them.


It couldn’t be simpler!  So See the Potential and use Growing Talent!