Labels = Stereotyping

Quite rightly there is a lot of talk around ‘slave labour’ and ‘modern slavery’.  There is an undercurrent of this in the UK especially in the ‘hidden market’.  There are vulnerable people who are exploited and their ‘exploiters’ – I won’t say employers – quiet rightly should be held to account.

 

However, I do believe this isn’t a black and white subject.  I now hear of unpaid interns, work experience and similar programmes being labeled ‘modern slavery’ or exploitation.  Is this right/fair?

 

From the Modern Slavery Act 2015  this definition is to me is very clear ‘These crimes include holding a person in a position of slavery , servitude forced or compulsory labour, or facilitating their travel with the intention of exploiting them soon after’

 

For those of us stereotyped by society due to our personal circumstances such as homeless, unemployed, single parent, on the domestic violence register, mental health or physical issues need a different route to sustainable employment to those not living with these labels.

 

Some time ago I was a single parent, officially homeless with two children under 6, on the domestic violence register and holding down a number of deadend casual jobs to feed my children.  Although not diagnosed, the situation I was in was clearly making me anxious and depressed.

 

I knew the only way I could change my circumstances for the long term was to secure a job which would lead to a career.  But how could I do that?  I hadn’t worked in the previous 10 years apart from building up a business with my ex-husband who was not going to give me a reference!  I saw the look on employers faces when I mentioned I was a single parent and officially homeless.

 

Then I had an idea.  Before having my family, I’d worked for a global organisation in financial services.  I was not on benefits – the DHSS at the time (prior to JobCentre Plus) advised me to get married again – sensitive right?   I found a local accountant and offered to work for them for no money for a week.  At the end of that week I would either be paid and given a permanent part time role or I would be unpaid and released.  I worked for that accountant for over four years before  securing a permanent full-time role in recruitment which led to some amazing achievements including setting-up my own business.

 

Was I exploited?  No I had an opportunity to learn a role and showcase what I could do without having to ‘sell myself’ at interview with little recent experience and zero confidence.

 

Years later whilst working for a national facilities company as Recruitment Manager, I noticed how difficult it was to recruit and sustain local people.  There are a lot of residential estates around Canary Wharf but, at the time, a lot of 3rd even 4th generation unemployed families.  I remembered my experience all those years before and devised the Real Apprentice.  A work experience programme that focussed on building self-esteem and work place ettiquette.  The Real Apprentice ran for over eight years and got 75% into permanent jobs.

 

The Real Apprentice was vetted by multiple award bodies during this period and won several awards year on year including BiTC – Big Tick, Dragon Award – Lord Mayor, Opportunity Now, Race for Opportunity, ENEI, The best of Europe against 23 countries  and a Justice Award.

 

So clearly – no one felt the Real Apprentice was in the category of the often, and not always correctly, used term ‘modern slavery’.

 

I was approached by one leading employer from the Real Apprentice and challenged to devise something better. In December 2013 Growing Talent was devised with a provisional  permanent job offer upfront, an Orientation Week to build confidence and work place etiquette prior to going on site, a Holistic Week to deliver soft skills knowledge including personal finance, fitness, nutrition, art, as well as qualification as a Mental Health First Aider. An audit trail provides accurate progression status and is managed by the individual.  Unpaid, participants retain their benefits and have their travel paid.  If they choose to drop out they are not penalised by JCP.  Giving them control and the ability to showcase what they can do without the pressure of traditional recruitment. Over 140 people from all backgrounds have secured permanent jobs and flourished

 

No cvs, no formal interviews and no job descriptions.

 

For those who don’t have ‘labels’ and aren’t stereotyped their default is often straight to shout exploitation/modern slavery.  Just think for a  moment.  If you were stereotyped because of your ‘label’ would you be able to showcase your ability in a formal recruitment interview?

 

For those of us who have experienced this stereotyping, we need a different, bespoke solution to securing a permanent sustainable role.

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employment – it’s all about the preparation strategy… or is it?

Like any board game – preparation, planning research are all essential elements to increase our chances of winning – which are mirrored in searching for employment.

 

I received an email over the weekend which made me stop and think.  Maybe not everyone shares this logic.  Who teaches us about workplace etiquette after all ?

 

Over the weekend, I received an email.  I had to re-read this several times.  I have another Growing Talent programme about to start and applications are already coming in.  However, nothing in my 20 year career history working in inclusive employment prepared me for this email……..

 

‘Can I use your address to re-direct my mail?’  This individual was a complete stranger.  Why would they think it appropriate to ask such a question?

 

There is no 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.  Preparation, planning and research will help everyone make a great 1st impression!

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Speed Dating – Growing Talent Way!

It was the first time at our new venue – Etc Venues in Eastcheap – would everyone find it ok?  Of course they all did.

 

The room was buzzing with employers from diverse industries including Northbank BID, Crown Plaza Hotel, Portico, Red Personnel, Pertemps, Park Plaza Hotel, Ballymore, ConnectPlusServicesM25 and Baxter Storey.  Armed with their ice breaker questions and summary profile sheets as well as their open minds, the conversation and laughter flowed.

 

Just some of the employers who joined us for our speed dating session in January………..

 Antonia & Julie from Portico at PwC

 

 

 Pedro of Pertemps  Jamie – Red Personnel

 Katherine & Gerald of Northbank BID

 Cameron looking for talent for Ballymore

 

 

Andy of ConnectPlusServicesM25

 

 Maria & Ebb from Crown Plaza Hotel

 

 

 

The format was 10 minutes at each employer table in small groups of 2-3.  Following the ice breaker question would be ‘tell me a little about yourself’.  Now all applicants had met with me first and been told to prepare an ‘eBay’ style ad on themselves ready for this question!  A snapshot of their life – at work, at home and future career desires.

 

Employers would then select their shortlist of applicants they believe could grow into their roles over the six week journey to meet again on a 1-2-1 basis before provisional job offers would be made.

 

Everything ran like clockwork until one group went the wrong way mid-way trough causing laughter mayhem! Of course going out of sync meant an employer table was always left without any applicants!  Great for coffee/loo breaks though.

 

Finally, the event was over.  I’m not sure who was more exhausted – the employers or applicants!  Even new employers agreed this was a unique and interesting method to secure new talent without a cv/traditional interview.

 

We ended with six people invited to go forward with provisional permanent job offers:

 

Charlene – Guest Services Agent with Crown Plaza Hotel

Kristina – Guest Services Agent with Park Plaza Hotel

Abraham – Resourcer with Red Personnel

Joseph – Commis Chef with Park Plaza Hotel

Estela – Welcome Host with Portico

Jess – Welcome Host with Portico.

 

Excited and ready for the challenge ahead, the new Growing Talent 20 Associates prepared for the Orientation Week before going on site to train in their roles……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Growing Talent 18 – how has the first week been?

The first week training in their potential end jobs is always tough.  It’s about managing instant expectations and keeping the end goal in site – easier said than done for many!

 

After being unemployed – even for a short time – leaving the routine of your comfort zone takes courage, determination, tenacity and grit. Qualities that not everyone has.

 

So where are the Growing Talent 18 Associates ? & how have they got on?

 

Kam is working with the Portico team on their PwC accounts cross training in all areas at two sites in London – Charing Cross and London Bridge.  Based there with Kam is Alex…

 

Alex summed the first week as ‘so much to learn, but it’s really good – I made the right choice.’ Alex was in the lucky position of having a number of employers offer him provisional roles on Growing Talent.

 

Helen below is very happy working with the reception team at Regent Group in Wimbledon…..

 

‘The team are really friendly.  It’s different work to the world of corporate switchboard which I’ve been used to but I really like it and the travelling isn’t bad! Just an hour max door to door including all the walking to stations/interchanges etc.

‘The days are really long but I’m really enjoying it’ shared Tom above who is working with the Social Media team on video content.  ‘The days are really long as I’m in 7.45 to 8am each day but I’ve found a local part to go to each lunchtime’.

 

Leo had a tough week not least because he, by his own admission, is very impatient and want everything now!  Working with Scotscape – a living wall specialist, Leo is hands-on in his role

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Mohammed, above, is learning the ropes with Acuity Services’ Elite Team.  The Elite Team are trained in all accounts to enable them to seamlessly cover holidays and sickness.  Mohammed is keen to get his teeth into something demanding responsibility.

 

Lastly AJ is learning to support Amrik – Talent Acquisition at Regent Group to deliver an exemplary service in securing and training the right talent to ensure Regent Group grow efficiently.

 

AJ’s a little camera shy so no photo!

 

The biggest transition for anyone one on Growing Talent to complete the programme and secure the provisional job offer is managing their ‘instant expectations’.  By this I mean, we are so used to getting everything we want ‘now’ without having to wait for it. Eg, order a takeaway on line and it’s delivered to your door, same with a weekly shop, clothes, maintenance equipment, furniture in fact just a bout anything.

 

However, two things you won’t ever secure instantly are meaningful relationships and a career! Both have to be worked at, nurtured and sustained.

 

Check back to see how the guys get on over the coming weeks……………

 

 

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.

What it takes to get a job & keep it? – some thoughts by those who know!

After almost completing Growing Talent 17 and going into their permanent jobs, the Growing Talent Associates have learnt what it takes to get a job, keep it and grow it into a career.

 

Therefore, one of their final tasks was to compile a poster illustrating this.

 

First up was Delroy who is on the journey with Ballymore Group working in Maintenance….

Delroy was clearly enthused by the previous art workshop and drew his key points…..

Delroy Poster

Imran with Pertemps learning the rope of a Junior Recruitment Consultant split his poster into four key points.  All of which are invaluable on this journey….

Imran Poster

She split her poster into the three stages….

 

Shae Poster

They could almost run Growing Talent themselves!

 

Ready, set …….almost go!

Checklist!  The following is ready to go for tomorrow’s 17th Employer Speed Dating Session at Southwark Cathedral!

 

  • Employer Table names
  • Register of wannabe Growing Talent Associates
  • Profile summary sheet from employers
  • Ice breaker questions

 

With 22 talented applicants expected, it should be an amazing day!

 

Thanks to Matthew Bowden for the inspiring feature photo from http://www.freeimages.com –  it aptly shows the bright new future awaiting the selected Growing Talent Associates……….

‘Sacrifice People to save numbers’

I came across this quote whilst reading work by Simon Sinek – the renowned motivational speaker – check him out on YouTube.

 

We’ve all seen companies downsize their staff in turbulent financial times with no thought about the impact on those individuals, their families nor the overall drop in moral on the staff they keep.

 

Even when there isn’t a financial downturn, companies will often shred staff to reduce their payroll bill and thus increase their profits – more palatable for the shareholders – or is it?

 

I worked for a company for over 12 years.  Just before the financial reporting, a round of redundancies would be announced to ensure the company retained it’s double digit growth.  In reality, they haven’t grown at all.  All they had done was culled their staff.

 

Simon’s point was what would happen if companies did the reverse? ‘Sacrificed the numbers to save the people’ – what a thought.  The example he gave was of Bob Chapman Chair of Barry-Wehmiller in USA.  This company was a £1bn plus turnover and made big machinery.  In the 2008 financial crash he decided to ‘sacrifice the numbers to save the people’.   With 30% written of the company’s value in one fail swoop – it was time to try something new.

 

He suggested everyone – from himself downwards, would take four weeks unpaid holiday.  They didn’t have to take it consecutively and they could take it when they wanted but everyone would keep their jobs.  The response was huge.  Those senior people who could afford to take more unpaid leave traded with those that couldn’t.  Everyone worked as a family, pulling together.  They were involved in the decision, given the support to do it and felt safe and happy.  The company prospered.  It enjoys 20% year on year growth compared with the average 6%.

 

When you believe in why you are doing something, everything else falls into place.  People support you because they believe in the same thing.

 

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if all companies ‘Sacrificed the numbers for the people’?

 

How much more would their profits grow?  What do you think?

Social Mobility – What is it exactly?

I was thinking about this the other day.  Maybe my definition is different to others….

 

So what prompted this thought?  I’d been invited by a global financial services organisation with a multi £bn turnover and global presence to share my work with their Social Mobility team.

 

During this meeting I explained how I devised and run Growing Talent which has got over 120 people from the ranks of the unemployed into permanent jobs which they have flourished in.  Over four years, many have returned to encourage those following them and shared how much Growing Talent had changed their lives.  Some have started their own business.

 

I gave many examples from graduates who had no direction, self belief nor understanding of what the world of employment looked like to people like Richard – mid 30s, never worked – who not only completed the programme but has been employed for over two years now.

 

People on Growing Talent come from all social backgrounds including the homeless, single parents, people who have experienced mental health issues and so on.

 

With nurturing and encouragement they have secured employment, got savings, taken back control of their lives and have immense self-belief.  To me, this is social mobility.

 

At the end of the meeting, the Social Mobility team said Growing Talent was good but what about clothes?  Clothes do not bring about change.  A mindset, encouragement into work and self belief do as my evidence shows.

 

So what does Social Mobility mean to you?  Is it a new set of clothes or is it giving the tools to someone to literally change their lives?

 

I sincerely hope the money being invested into these Social Mobility teams actually delivers real change and doesn’t just become a tick box exercise….

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