If our children are growing up hungry – where are businesses getting their future talent from?

Listening to the radio this morning, the above question jumped into my head. I have my solution at the end of this post. What would be your thoughts?

Time for us all to have an uncomfortable conversation maybe?

The radio feature was on free school meals and the excellent spotlight the footballer Marcus Rashford has shone on this.

Children going hungry is shamefully not a new problem for the UK. Following the end of WWII, free school meals were introduced to ensure no child went hungry. Bearing in mind this was a time when food additives, were a lot less intensive than they are now. Basic, nutritional food that ensured healthy growth for all children in the UK was the norm.

Over the following years, we seemed to lose this ‘collective’ thinking that we are all responsible for the health of the next generation.

I well remember the endeavours of chef Jamie Oliver from 2004 to address putting ‘nutrition’ back into school dinners cost effectively. This would ensure concentration in lessons resulting ultimately in social mobility. Education on an empty stomach is totally non-productive and a complete waste of money. Children can’t concentrate with their stomachs rumbling. As adults, we know when we’re hungry we can think of nothing else. Why would we think it’s different for children?

The radio feature this morning spoke about Jamie’s work and the fact two of his chefs are working in Schools in Greenwich to help feed children nutritionally during school holidays.

Marcus has re-foccused the spotlight back on the need to feed vulnerable children during school holidays as parents struggle through coronavirus.

Many parents will feed their children fast foods because they are cheap. Quantity is better than quality thinking. We know fresh food doesn’t have to be expensive. It does take effort to buy and prepare especially when trying to hold down a number of poorly paid jobs to provide a secure home.

A few of ideas spring to my mind:

  1. Tax cheap, fast food so it becomes a ‘treat’ and heavily discount fresh foods so they become the norm.
  2. I know from experience many families won’t apply for help even when they are entitled. Pride gets in the way. Radical thought here – provide free school meals for every child so not one child is ‘singled’ out as being ‘poor’. From 5-18. Schools become community hubs. Open through school holidays. This would create:

a. Employment throughout the UK

b. Community cohesion

c. Brain power amongst all our children to take advantage of education, realise their dreams, become the innovators of tomorrow, feeding our businesses making the UK a vibrant country of integrity for all.

Of course there would be a huge cost for this. But, what is the cost of not doing it?

As a business owner, I’d be in favour of increased taxes if they were going to this worthwhile cause. I wonder if very wealthy people, would be willing to make annual donations to this cause and write this off against their taxes? Some people earn telephone number salaries and are reluctant to pay HMRC. No one likes paying taxes. But if part of their taxes went to a specific cause like this, would their attitude change if they could see the good they are doing?

A minority of the UK are living in a bubble where they have so much money they will never be able to spend it. Maybe social taxation could be the answer.

Maybe it’s time to do something radical and something different.

What would be your thoughts?

Growing Talent 25 has completed…… bring on GT26!

In January, we started off with 40 enthused, unemployed people applying for Growing Talent.  Following the Employer Speed Dating held mid-January, 15 were selected by employers for a 1-2-1 second stage meeting.  Offers were made, some rejected so we commenced Growing Talent 25 with three participants from diverse backgrounds who all shared one thing in common – they wanted to work!

 

Michelle & Tara from PwC joined the session and selected Annarita , below, to join them!

This is a big departure for Annarita.  Following a background in textile design she is now part of PwC’s secretarial community.

 

Kate – a regular recruiter on Growing Talent – from Firmdale Hotels, selected Kerry to join their Haymarket hotel within the housekeeping team.  Kerry is loving the role and already got her eye on progression not to mention the staff perks!

 

Annarita & Kerry – trained first aiders in Mental Health during the holistic part of Growing Talent.

 

Lastly, Sergio and Lina from ISS selected Nazzarriey to join their waste and segregation team.  Naazzaariey – seen below with Kerry is getting used to the routine of working and planning things she can do with her wages….

 

 

We wish them well on their adventures ahead now they have a regular salary coming in…..

Highlights of their journey include:

Awaiting feedback on their excellent Social Enterprise presentation and more importantly the winner!

 

Emma from Unravelling Minds showing how art helps with wellbeing….

 

Lesley mid-flow delivering her 3Rs – techniques for staying healthy in the workplace.

 

This is one of the few times Growing Talent has experienced 100% who started completed and went into work!  Great outcome for all…

 

What does the road ahead hold for them? who knows – but that’s part of the excitement of life – right?

The 26th programme starts in March…. watch this space!

 

Employer Speed Dating at Growing Talent 22!

Monday 10 June saw the 22nd speed dating event with employers at Etc Venues in Eastcheap.  Employers present looking for new talent to grow into their roles included Park Plaza Hotel – Westminster, Club Quarters Hotel – Trafalgar Square, ISS at More London, Firmdale Hotels, Red Personnel, Pertemps and Ballymore who pulled out just before the start due to sickness.

 

Over 20 people were selected by employers to go forward to the second stage.  Helping Firmdale Hotels with their selection was Heavenly – who was on Growing Talent 21! Heavenly is below with Firmdale’s Recruitment Manager, and longtime supporter of Growing Talent – Dan.

 

IMG_8785.JPG

Helping Red Personnel from Growing Talent 20 was Abe pictured below with Jamie….

Red Jamie and Abe

Helping with logistic on the day featured below were l-r were Jacquie and Anna – leads for Growing Talent at JobCentre Plus, Sam a new manager from JCP and Shennell wo was on Growing Talent 6 and always returns to support and encourage others when she can.

 

Shennel and JCP

Following second stage employer selection, we welcomed 10 new Growing Talent Associates:

 

Brandon & Sheldon – joining Pertemps

James – joining Red Personnel

Miyuki, Stephan, Jordan & Stephen – joining ISS

Calum and Romain joining Park Plaza Hotel at Westminster

Michael – joined Churchill Services – a late comer

 

Check out the Orientation Week to see how they got on!  Thanks to everyone involved for making it a great event!

When you think it’s going horribly wrong……

At the start of Growing Talent 22 I was really concerned about the few applicants referred from JobCentre Plus.  Would it be worth running the programme? where the media reports of over 2 million workless households in the UK all outside of London?  It costs so much to run each programme – currently c£3,200 per head for a group of 10 – was it cost effective to keep running it?

 

Luckily the funders have always said ‘yes – even if one person gets a job, it’s the right thing to do’.

 

After a slow start, the applications started flowing in.  Over 55 from South London District alone and a few more from North London.  Sadly West and East districts did not refer anyone.  Shame as there is a permanent job at the start of the Growing Talent Journey for all selected by employers to take part.

 

So a full week of 1-2-1 compatibility meetings are scheduled this week.  If yesterday’s schedule is anything to go by, there is so much eager talent ready for development by an employer.

 

Check back to see who gets selected at our Employer Speed Dating event on 10 June where employers including Ballymore, ISS, Firmdale, Club Quarters, Park Plaza Hotel, Pertemps & Red Personnel will be looking for their new talent.

Qualified #MentalHealthFirstAiders!

As part of Growing Talent we deliver the global Mental Health First Aider qualification for every Growing Talent Associate on the programme and invite some of the employer managers as well.

 

This intense course makes up the first two days of the Holistic Week, which for Growing Talent 21 was 29 and 30 April 2019.

 

The course teaches confidence and awareness in recognising a change in someone, starting a conversation, signposting on to appropriate help and – vitally – self care.

 

The first day sets the solid foundation of the work of mental health covering legislation, the start of MHFA in Australia the spread throughout the globe, depression and suicide.  The five global steps of intervention are introduced and used throughout the day.  ALGEE is fundamental in remembering the process to support someone and ourselves.  Keen to ensure there is no communication misunderstanding, I introduce ‘reflect back’ from the start of the MHFA course.  After listening, it’s essential in my opinion to reflect back what we’ve heard to ensure we have the facts.  Especially crucial when raising suicidal thoughts.  Day two covers anxiety, personality and eating disorders as well as psychosis – focussing on BiPolar and Schizophrenia.

 

Shennell joined us for the week to support and encourage the guys.  She did Growing Talent some four years ago.  She took a photo of her original manual and the current one for comparison.

 

 

We all agreed the new manual is a big improvement and a gym workout as well!

 

So after two exhausting days, what did the Growing Talent Associates and employers think?

 

“Intense course but essential in today’s society”

“This course has exceeded by expectations.”

“I’ve learnt a deeper understanding of mental illness and methods to support”

“This course gave me a better understanding of mental ill health”

“I can now empathise what a person may go through”

“It has changed my approach to mental health.”

“My confidence has increased a lot.  I can now understand rather than judge people”

“I have learnt so much”

“A very insightful two days”

“I now have the knowledge  to support someone and keep myself safe”

“A brilliant course.  Please continue to teach it”

 

There was unanimous agreement on increased knowledge, tools learnt, fear factor greatly reduced and confidence to plan, start and signpost a conversation with someone struggling.

 

A great day at the office then!

 

All delegates were given the homework to spend one hour on themselves before returning on Wednesday for the continuance of the Holistic Week.

 

We should all take time to nurture ourselves.  Don’t you agree?

 

Doing the right thing or risking a lawsuit? Food for thought?

As a Mental Health Instructor for over 10 years, I am enthused to see the growth towards seeing and respecting mental health in in the same way we see and respect physical health.  Everyone is comfortable enquiring if a cold is better – not quite so comfortable asking how someone is feeling on their return to work after say depression.

 

The internet is full of well intentioned plans and events to raise the bar in talking about mental health and I see more employers supporting events like #MHAW2019 – Mental Health Awareness Week which starts 13 May.  Really great intentions.

 

But is there a risk of being sued under the Equalities Act 2010 and taken to Employment Tribunal?

 

Some of the employers I know allow all staff, regardless of screening to see if they are equipped to listen to someone else’s pain, to be a ‘listening ear’.

 

You don’t know what you are going to hear when you sit down to listen to someone struggling.  It can be an emotive area the listener has strong views on – such as self-harm.  Even if they can listen without judging – are they knowledgeable on how to signpost someone on? do they know how to take care of themselves after listening to someone’s pain?

 

I feel very strongly that we should be talking more openly in every day conversations about all human issues especially mental health.  But I feel just as strongly that we need to train those listeners how to listen, signpost and look after themselves.

 

Why not have a #MHAAT (Mental Health Aware And Trained) badge for trained employees to wear all year – not just one week.  Wouldn’t we make more of an impact and reduce the risk of a challenge under the Equalities Act at Employment Tribunal?

 

What do you think?

As an employer – how do you know you’ve found ‘the one’?

It’s difficult and time consuming trying to identify the right talent for your business before hiring, not just from a skillset point of view but also personal outlook, fit with the team and company ethos as well as future potential, before hiring them.

 

At the point of hire in traditional recruitment, a lot of time and money has been spent on composing the vacancy, advertising it, potentially engaging recruitment agencies, a contract has been drawn-up, payroll has been set-up – all without knowing if the individual is a good fit in all areas and has the potential to grow.

 

If there is a ‘miss-match’ there is not only a cost implication but also a decrease in team moral.

 

Surely a ‘try before you buy’ works for both sides.  Enter Growing Talent!  Now I know what some employers may think who have not been involved in anything like this before…”the unemployed never work out”, “there is no commitment from the unemployed – they’re used to not working”.

 

As the saying goes – the proof is in the pudding – as many naysayers have found.

 

Alex, on the current programme with Portico, recently had his first appraisal.  After just a few short weeks on site, he’s exceeded expectations in all areas.  Outstanding feedback from the team is a natural self esteem booster.  Alex is looking forward to the remaining training ahead.  Already, he’s been identified as a perfect addition to the team – something the employer would not have secured without Growing Talent.

 

Why aren’t all employers recruiting through Growing Talent?  I’d love to know…

 

 

http://www.growing-talent.co.uk

Is it difficult to show good customer service when you don’t like your employer?

It’s well documented that helping others, smiling, giving the best possible service we can to others increases our positive mental health.

 

This is easy when we feel valued by our employers.  It’s a natural reaction when a customer asks for help or  raises an issue which could impact the business/other customers.  But what about if we don’t feel valued or empowered by our employers?  We’re already in a negative outlook situation.  Can we automatically switch on the positivity and charm to help others?

 

Clearly for the two floor assistants in a reputed high end retail chain of grocers I encountered over the weekend, they proved that some people can’t automatically be positive/helpful when they don’t feel valued….

 

I noticed a smashed bottle of whiskey in the drinks area.  Broken glass was spread across the floor.  Being a busy Saturday morning, there were many children out with their families – a nasty accident was clearly likely as was a law suit for the shop.  I saw two assistants talking nearby and raised the issue – neither said thank you for the ‘heads-up’ even when the customer who had knocked it over came back after failing to find someone to tell and apologised, the two were uninterested.

 

I wonder if their day might have gone better had they exercised good customer service with a smile?  After all ‘It’s not things in themselves that upsets us, but how we look at those things’ Epictetus – Greek Slave circa 55AD – still true today, don’t you agree?

 

 

Rethink by business needed?

I attended the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s joint launch with London Councils of their report on London’s skill challenges.

 

Looking through the stats and research put together by their researchers – ComRes who surveyed in excess of 2,000 London based employers this year, one of the key areas I found startling was that illustrated in the feature picture of this blog.  London businesses found the following key difficulties when recruiting:

 

  1.      Applicants lacked sufficient technical ability
  2.      Applicants lacked sufficient experience
  3.      Low number of applicants for the role
  4.      Applicants lacked cv writing/interviewing skills
  5.      Too much competition from other employers

 

I found this startling because nothing has changed since I started working in recruitment in the early 2000s!  Employers have to think differently especially with the uncertainty of Brexit.  We need to think outside the box.

 

The talent that has the technical ability, experience and cv/interviewing skills is already employed!  We need to look at the vast chunks of our population which aren’t employed.  These people may have some barriers to work which in the main can be overcome by nurturing into employment.

 

We have to accept the faults of the past and address the issues to ensure we meet the skills challenge:

  • Why not train someone in a vacant role so they get the technical skills and experience before hiring – oh wait we already do that on Growing Talent
  • Why not select based on attitude and enthusiasm instead of cvs and interviews?  Oh wait, Growing Talent does that too!
  • There are plenty of applicants for the role – they just aren’t ‘polished’ at the start but become so on the journey – over 128 people from all backgrounds prove this!
  • Selection is in two stages – a speed dating session and a 1-2-1 – no cv, no traditional interview
  • Employers won’t have competition from other employers if they nurture as above and will get more commitment because they have given that support.

 

A report last year showed we have a generation of pre-school children who don’t know how to turn the pages of a book ! – most swipe as if it’s a screen!

 

Even where people have technical ability, they often don’t have the social skills.  They are glued to their mobiles, don’t know how to network, expect everything instantly etc.

 

To meet the skills challenge – employers have to be parents, counsellors, coaches – not just employers – but the results are so worthwhile as proved by Growing Talent – http://www.growing-talent.co.uk.

Mr Fixit!

With Growing Talent 17 in full swing, I’ve been making site visits all week.  One of the stand out ones was Delroy at Ballymore in Vauxhall.

 

Ballymore were taking part for the first time – so no pressure on Delroy to impress!  Joining the GM’s team at their Empress Gardens estate, Delroy is currently looking after the day-to-day maintenance of one building.  As a high end residential block, everything has to be pristine.

 

Located adjacent to the new American Embassy the area is developing quickly with new businesses and executive homes being built in the area.

 

Ballymore not only build residential and commercial properties, they maintain and run them as well.  Meaning customer care and relationship building are just as key to success as job ‘know how’.

 

Delroy is already being looked at for promotion as the estate is growing to nine buildings and he’s only been on site four weeks!  He’s absolutely loving it.

 

As his first job since 2010, no formal qualifications and only with the experience of running his own business, it was almost impossible for Delroy to secure the right role for him through the traditional route.  Through Growing Talent, he’s been able to showcase he is right for the role with Ballymore and changed management’s mind on the talent and potential amongst the ranks of the unemployed!  They confirmed they will recruit through Growing Talent again – great news, thanks to Delroy’s attitude and enthusiasm.

 

Delroy below in his own office complete with his own tropical fish tank for those mindful moments essential in any working day!

 

A strong career with Ballymore lies ahead for Delroy if he stays on course….. A great role model for others following him.

 

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