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.



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.

Don’t let the bad eclipse the good!

How easy it is to let small things/one person detract us from what’s really important.


Since 2004 I have worked in dedicated employability programmes encouraging and supporting those unemployed people with ‘labels’ into employment and getting employers to think a different way when it comes to recruitment.


When you have a ‘label’ you will be stereotyped by perceptions of others – especially employers the majority of the time.  Homeless, care leavers, domestic abuse, mental/physical/social issues to some conjure up perceptions of what that person is capable of, how much ‘hassle’ it could be to employ them.  Now I know only too well we have legislation in place to stop this stereotyping but it doesn’t work.  Humans will always prejudge someone on their assumptions/perceptions of them not the evidence of what they can do and the value they add to a role.


It’s a fact, those of us with ‘labels’ need a different route to employment than the traditional cv/interview/start.  In 2004 I devised the Real Apprentice which ran until 2013 getting 378 people into permanent jobs – even though it was an eight week work experience programme!  I still see two of the Real Apprentices in their jobs over 10 years later – one manages a team!


In December 2013 a conversation saw Growing Talent devised and launched in February 2014.  A three month, full time into work programme with a permanent, full-time guaranteed job up front, appraisal audit trail for progression monitoring Orientation Week to build confidence and Holistic Week – initially carried out as a residential stay at a country hotel has seen 148 people into permanent jobs from diverse, vulnerable backgrounds.  All employers say they would not have employed anyone through the traditional route but having seen them over a period of time learning the vacant role, working with the team and seeing their confidence and potential grow in situ made it a win win.  According to JobCentre Plus’s overall lead for Growing Talent at least 100 more have gone into work through the feedback and guidance they got in the application process.  Which is great to hear.


Now over five years into Growing Talent we’ve streamlined it.  Now six weeks long, still a guaranteed full-time job up front, Orientation and Holistic week – carried out as a day attendance in London with the ability to extend for more technical roles or family crisis.


Years on year, I get thank you gifts, cards, flowers, texts, emails – its really heartwarming to know I’m making a difference and as the guys say ‘changing lives’.


Getting back to the title of this post, I’ve been pondering the reason for continuing with Growing Talent.  The reason for this is 18 months ago a legal process was started by one individual applying for the programme who didn’t get through.  The pressure of dealing with this process as well as family life, mentoring others, as well as continue to run Growing Talent made me think – ‘is it really worth it’.  Had I shut Growing Talent down 18months ago at the start of this process 26 vulnerable people would not be in their full-time jobs today.  All with labels.  All previously stereotyped.


Yesterday, I had another pile of legal papers to work through in connection with the process mentioned above but then came the following card to my mail box….



Heavenly has made me see how important it is not to let the bad eclipse the good and as there are 147 others who think the same as Heavenly and only 1 who doesn’t  Growing Talent must be doing good and must continue!


Thanks Heavenly!



The end of the road…………

Today is the final day of Growing Talent 21.  Nine of the 13 who started the journey have completed and secured their permanent roles.


Their true grit and determination has paid off.


Congratulations and respect to:


Amar – joined MitieTDM – Specialist Internal Firm Services

Bernie -joined MitieTDM – Specialist Internal Firm Services

Navin -joined MitieTDM – Specialist Internal Firm Services

Kelly – joined Melia White House Hotel

Heavenly – joined Firmdale Hotel

Robert – joined Firmdale Hotel – initially as Kitchen Porter but his performance saw him start as Commis Chef

Natasha – joined Firmdale Hotel

Charlie-Ray – joined Portico at PwC

Katrina – joined Portico at PwC


We wish them all well in their careers ahead………………