A lesson from Sicily?

I firmly believe there have been many positives to the global pandemic as well as the many well known negatives.

The world has learned a lot from each other sharing knowledge, information, research as well as stats and their process of handling infection rates. This collaboration has produced two vaccines cleared for rollout as well as India’s home produced vaccine about to be rolled out in India.

Whilst there is still a long way to go until the pandemic is managed via immunisation, I wonder if Governments will learn from the collaboration to date and continue with this going forward. Think of the positive changes that could be made.

Watching the Focus item on French 24 tv this morning, I wondered if the changes Italy is going through is something we can learn from in the UK on ‘levelling up’ areas of deprivation and past industries such as our mining towns, coastal resorts, previous manufacturing areas and so on.

Sicily experienced decades of young people leaving to work in the more prosperous North leaving. behind a growing older population and economic degeneration.

Focus explained the pandemic saw many younger people who had migrated to the North for work, returned to their parental homes in the South at the start of the pandemic. Working from co-working hubs socially distanced with fast fibre internet connection, they can work as well as if they were in their office in the North.

What they’ve noticed is the economic regeneration locally. Municipalities are rolling out fibre optic networks in their best locations to entice this positive change to become permanent. One featured a ceramic museum which now has the dual purpose of being a co-working space with fast internet and great views across to the Aeolin Islands. The quality of life for these young people has increased, there is no ‘brain drain’, older generations have their families around them and local businesses are experiencing regeneration.

The North of Italy will continue as a buoyant business hub with offices thriving after the pandemic is over. But they are aware the benefits presented by the pandemic will be permanent – a true ‘levelling-up’ of the country.

The UK has spent a lot of money because of the pandemic. Surely it’s vital to spend a little more to invest in fast internet across the UK to not only enable people to work anywhere, if their job supports remote working, but also ensure every child has access to technology to enable them to develop their careers of the future.

We have seen pockets of the UK experience decades of deprivation as businesses/industries have closed with nothing replacing them. The below picture is typical of a lot of towns left behind when businesses/industries closed or moved. We see many high streets have lost their vibes as big chains moved in and now those big chains are failing. Many high streets over the decades has lost their independent stores to large chains, pubs and betting shops.

Isn’t this an ideal time to turn the tide?

What could these communities look like with the right investment?

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?

Getting where you want to be – a different path?

We’ve seen the misery inflicted on ‘A’ level students with the release of predicted grades last week and it seems the same is set to follow those receiving their GCSE results this week.

 

Students who worked massively hard and got great grades in their mocks and from their teachers were marked down on the basis of the overall history of their school’s performance.  Does it necessarily follow that a student attending an underperforming school who works hard, studies long and has positive role models in their life cannot soar?  I don’t believe it does.  Many people experience deprivation and barriers in their life but are able to focus on their goal, work hard and get where they want to be.

 

Education is seen by many adults the world over to be a passport out of deprivation for their children.  Unfortunately, not all children see this when they have free education offered to them.  But many do.  Many want to rise-up, work hard and move forward.

 

The one piece of positivity I noted this weekend was the story of strong apprenticeships – see feature photo.  I don’t mean the administration or customer service year long apprenticeships we’ve become used to but quality apprenticeships that lead to great careers and move people to where they want to be without judging them on what circumstances they were born into.

 

The feature picture reminded me of a meeting I had last week with a London Council.  Their apprenticeships are broad and varied including Surveyor, Engineering – two years plus and starting salaries of £21K+.

 

University is a passport to a better life for some.  But so are Apprenticeships.  There is more than one solution.  Look at apprenticeships on offer including at your local council.  The ideal opportunity for you could be nearer than you think.

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!

 

What self-belief can do…… inspirational!

I’m not usually one to read the sports pages but sitting on the train this morning I flicked through the Metro and saw the excellent feature on Khadijah Mellah who won a charity race yesterday at Glorious Goodwood!

 

The 18 year old learnt to ride at a local stable in Brixton but only sat on a race horse two months ago.

 

Breaking all barriers, perceptions and assumptions, Khadijah said in the report ‘I definitely want to keep going – I’ve loved every second.  It’s been a whirlwind……Ambitious women can make it – that is what I want to represent’.

 

I think she’s achieved the status of showing every human being they can achieve want they want with self-belief, determination and encouragement.

 

Now, shouldn’t this have been front page news?

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?

 

Don’t stereotype – see the talent behind the label!

It’s risk and cost free. There is some amazing, diverse talent amongst the invisible unemployed because they don’t have the skills, qualifications or ‘blag’ to ‘sell’ themselves in a recruitment interview. Believe me – employers/recruiters are missing out using cvs and traditional interview methods.

Be honest – were you trained for your job before being hired? I know I wasn’t – but I do have lots of ‘blag’. It wasn’t always that way for me. Which is how the seed for #GrowingTalent was planted back in the early 90s. With more labels than you could shake a stick at, I was stereotyped. Employers saw my labels not my potential.

A mutual ‘test drive’ saw me secure a foot into a job – which I held for over 4 years – before securing a permanent job in recruitment which I grew into a career before starting my own business. Multiple awards for getting well over 600 people with ‘labels’ into work later, I’m still amazed at employers hesitancy to give the same opportunity to others they received themselves when they were starting out.

The feature photo shows the diverse talent of those on the 21st programme of Growing Talent. All have commitment, empathy and drive to succeed. They just need a chance to shine. Luckily these guys have that chance.

Let me ask you a question – Where would you be now if someone in your past hadn’t given you an opportunity to shine? Pay it back and make a difference. Permanent employment changes lives – literally and adds value to employers’ bottom line.

Amongst our Growing Talent Associates we have care leavers, single parents, those with strong employment history and those with little, those with learning, social and medical issues, some are degree educated, some have been managers some run their own businesses. Now they have the opportunity to secure permanent jobs by training and growing in those vacancies before being hired. Open to anyone over 18 – no upper age limit. Defined by their performance not label.

 

Employers for Growing Talent 21 include MitieTDM, Portico, ISS, Firmdale Hotels, ME Hotel Group

 

What to get involved?  Then get in touch!

Stairway to opportunity?

Yesterday I finally got to see the impressive restoration at The Principal Hotel, London.  As a listed building with multiple original vintage features the launch date was put back a number of times.

 

I’d met Charlie & Amy from the HR team almost a year ago.  They came along to the Growing Talent Graduation 2017 and Amy attended one of our employer speed dating events to see if they could recruit through Growing Talent. Yesterday, Charlie confirmed they were indeed ready to join us on Growing Talent 18 which commences at the end of July.

 

Some of the stunning interiors any selected Growing Talent Associates will have the opportunity to work in….

 

The opulent lighting really fits the atmosphere at the hotel…..

 

Take a look at the ‘Hollywood’ showers…

 

 

How intricate is this mosaic outside the Palm Court afternoon tea area?

 

 

Who doesn’t love a four poster???

 

 

Great area for a nice soak after a long day….

 

 

Overlooking Russell Square itself, despite being in the heart of London with all the bustle, you literally feel a world away inside the hotel.  A great opportunity for the right Growing Talent Associates…..

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……….

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