Inspiring….

Despite Growing Talent, an inclusive employment programme I run, being on hold due to the pandemic, it’s always lovely to catch-up with some of the people who have participated over the years on how they are doing especially now.

Amongst the doom and gloom, uncertainty and insecurity the global pandemic has spread, some heart warming news!

Catching up with Jane, Debbie & Sharlene from past Growing Talent programmes, it was great to see their ignited self-belief and drive for personal growth has not been diminished by the challenges presented by Coronavirus.

Jane updated me on her current role. Still with Baxter Storey, who she joined on completion of Growing Talent 4, but now at a different account, she decided to use some of her personal time volunteering in her local community to help young people. Despite the application and joining process – rightly thorough screening – Jane is determined to support and encourage those that need it. Just as enthused as she was at the start of her journey all those years ago, it was a joy to learn how well she’s doing.

Debbie contacted me to share she had made it into print! Yes, her Christmas jumper, almost as bright as her smile, lights up the PwC welcome floor in the Welcome Team’s newsletter to raise money for charity on the annual ‘Christmas Jumper Day! Despite a challenging year – more so for Debbie who loves her intrepid travelling to far flung places, Debbie has also just won a new internal role after being interviewed by a Partner at PwC! Fearless as a lion and always up for a challenge – Go Debbie!

Just this week I learned Sharlene had come full circle. After completing Growing Talent in 2019 she joined a national facilities company in their facilities administration team. Unfortunately, like so many, Sharlene was made redundant earlier this year. Did she retreat into herself? Of course not! She moved house and got a job with Department of Work and Pensions as a Work Coach encouraging unemployed people to find the right role for them – and hopefully referring some to Growing Talent once the pandemic is over!

I am always in awe of the spirit, determination, innovative, empathetic DNA of the amazing people I work with on Growing Talent.

I know the next chapter for Jane, Debbie & Sharlene is going to be amazing because they will make it so.

For more information on Growing Talent check out – http://www.growing-talent.co.uk

Speed dating – Growing Talent style!

The toughest thing to overcome when looking for employment after a period of unemployment is being judged on your label(s).

 

By that I mean recruiters/employers ofter see your label(s) and the assumptions they make about the potential impact of those label(s) without speaking with you to understand the facts.

 

For example, a homeless, single parent who is unemployed will often be perceived as someone who is unstable and unreliable with zero transferable skills into the world of employment.

 

In reality, homeless doesn’t always mean ‘sleeping on the streets’ – although I think sleeping is the wrong word.  No one can sleep soundly on the streets with all the dangers that environment presents.

 

Single parents, in my experience,  have an array of skills which add value to employers.  All are great problem solvers, they are life coaches, highly organised solution finders with strong time management skills along with the drive and attitude to succeed to be positive role models for their children as well as establish a career path for themselves.  Any employer can train in their area of expertise but they can’t train ‘attitude’.  They are missing an excellent talent pool.

 

At Growing Talent, based on my own experience, we do not allow traditional recruitment methods.  There are no cvs nor job descriptions.  Employers select based on their belief of someone’s attitude to grow into their vacancy.  As every applicant has usually more than one barrier to employment, we partner with JobCentre Plus to ensure a financial safety net if someone is selected but doesn’t complete and secure the provisional permanent job offer.  This removes the ‘fear’ from those unemployed people who really want to work but have that nagging ‘what if’ in their heads.

 

So, to ensure employers and applicants are on the same level playing field, we have a speed dating session.  These always start really quietly.  Within 10minutes everyone is relaxed, laughing with each other and showing who they really are.

 

In small groups, applicants spend 10 minutes at each employer table finding out a little about the company and permanent jobs on offer.  The employers have the same window of time to find out a little about all applicants.

 

Some examples of previously employer speed dating events:

 

Employers select their shortlist from this event.  Shortlisted applicants attend a 1-2-1 meeting on the employer site where the job is based to learn more details.

 

At the point any offers are made to go on the Growing Talent journey with the employer, everything is known upfront about the end job.  There is no mystery around salary, bonus, benefits, hours, shifts etc.

 

How often do you go for a traditional job interview and leave as mystified as when you went in?

 

Growing Talent removes any doubt for both sides and everyone loves the spontaneity of speed dating – who not use it in recruitment?

Social Enterprise Challenge!

Challenge is the right word!  Faced with the prospect of having to devise and deliver a project to benefit a local community and have a revenue stream, really tests our workshops on ‘Fake it until you make it’!

 

Negative overthinking  gives way to confidence and ownership.  It’s a privilege to watch everyone learn together, nurture each other and step up to this challenge on the final day of the Orientation Week.

 

So, how did the Growing Talent Associates so?

Stallion Cycles by Calum, below who is joining Park Plaza Hotel at Westminster. Living in a small village, Calum had noticed how congested the single road in and out was – especially when on his driving lessons! Calum’s idea was based on the ‘Boris Bikes’ of central London but for those living out of London in semi rural areas or traffic hotspots.

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Pegasus devised by Brendon was set in the Brookhouse Road community centre where he lives. Addressing self esteem, personal belief using a mixture of sports and professional encouragement. Brendon is a little camera shy so no photos of his excellent presentation.

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Scripts by Romain, above based in part on his own experience discovering acting as a vehicle away from the wrong path and crime. Taking over a disused cinema, Romain had a number of strands to using art. Life skills would be taught to 5-11 year olds – kindness and respect of others. His core audience were 15-25 using all the potential career opportunities in a theatre for them to try and consider. In addition, rooms above the theatre would be rented out for studio space and similar. Romain joined Park Plaza Hotel at Westminster.

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Life Advice by James seen above focussed on working with high school students on mapping personality to potential industries for career consideration, he also covered mentoring, investing, general life skills and opened up the opportunity to parents as well. Using a mobile unit he could visit estates/schools easily. James joined Red Personnel.

Strictly Dancing Elderly by Miyuki seen below tackled fitness and isolation in the over 65s combining tea dances with social interaction, tea and of course cake! She based this in Lewisham where she lives and shared her story of isolation since her longterm friend found a partner leaving her alone. With a growing over 65s population , Miyuki’s idea was simple yet effective. Miyuki joined ISS at PwC More London

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Street View by Stephan is based in Forest Hill where he lives. An area which has missed out on investment and regeneration over the years, Stephan had noticed how there was a growing population of homeless people on the streets and also the burgeoning art community who had no platform to showcase their work. Street View married the two. A magazine featuring the artists’ work sold by the homeless delivered a solution to address these two important issues which would easily be replicated in other areas. Stephan joined ISS at More London.  Stephan presenting below.

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Steel Games was Jordan’s idea seen below. Having stumbled into playing the steel drums as a child, he ended up as part of an orchestra which entered into a competition. Jordan’s orchestra come 2nd and they performed on Junior Panorama. Based in Anerley with multiple recent stories of knife crime, Jordan believed his idea would give those at risk of being involved a different path to consider. On one floor, he would have gaming consoles and teach young people ways to use this technology safely as well as a selection of steel drums on the bottom floor. Encouraging all to try out this diverse instrument. Jordan joined ISS at PwC More London

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A.I. delivered by Stephen was based on using artificial intelligence to deliver administrative innovations to large organisations such as JCP, NHS etc. The idea being appointments are never missed as A.I. removes the use of human error. A unique interpretation of the Social Enterprise Challenge. Stephen joined ISS at PwC More London seen presenting below.

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Lastly Michael worked hard on his E-Library idea even though he was not attending the Social Enterprise Challenge as his employer Churchill Services had a large senior management meeting which Michael presented at instead- see below! Just as nerve-racking I suspect!  Michael clearly shone as two senior managers contacted me after this Churchill event to say how impressed they were!

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Judges l-r – Mariatu – ISS, Geoff – North London JCP, Patricia – Red Personnel, Jon – PwC and head judge, Judith – Club Quarters Hotel, Pedro – Pertemps & Anna – JCP South London and overall lead for Growing Talent at JobCentre Plus.

 

As you can see the judges above had a tough job deciding on the winner. After much deliberation the £50 cash prize was won by……

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Jon presenting a very surprised Miyuki with her £50 prize for her winning idea ‘Strictly Dancing Elderly’!  Very well deserved.

Every judge made a point of saying how good the ideas were, how doable and how socially aware they were.  Empowering for all Growing Talent Associates!

 

Challenging ourselves can be scary, but the sense of achievement in pushing ourselves that little bit further is so worth it.

 

If you are facing something daunting, don’t overthink it.  Fake it until you make it!  The benefits are amazing.  Just ask the Growing Talent 22 Associates!

 

 

 

Growing Talent 22 starts – remarkable!

What’s remarkable? Lots of things – depending on who you ask!

 

For employers it’s likely the fact they recruit in a free, no risk way.  Selecting from a pre-screened pool of talent, employers don’t select those who can do the roles but those who have the ability to grow into their roles.  This is key.  The six week journey of Growing Talent enables both parties to be confident the match is right before the point of hire saving time and money.

 

For participants it’s likely the fact there is a permanent provisional job upfront – the prize they secure on successful completion.  They don’t have to rely on  trying to ‘sell’ their skills and potential through a cv to secure an interview nor explain gaps in skills, qualification, self-confidence if they manage to secure that elusive interview.

 

For JobCentre Plus (JCP) – it’s the fact their customers go into permanent jobs and learn skills to stay employed thereby not returning to benefits.  In addition, many of their customers not selected by an employer for a permanent role, learn from feedback given to enhance their future employment approaches.  While I quote 148 into permanent jobs – JCP will say the figure is much hire – which is great to hear!

 

For Care Leavers’ Organisations – employment is the critical key  to leaving care confidently.  Having a steady income enables everyone to make choices in their lives.  It gives us all control.  It isn’t enough to have somewhere safe to live without the means to pay the rent!

 

For me – it’s the fact a programme I designed, wrote and delivered is still being funded by a global financial services and is now on it’s 22nd programme!  I never expected this and shows the critical key of never doubting yourself – if you do, you’ll talk yourself out of doing anything!  If you keep going, you will find solutions for problems as they arise.  I also find it remarkable how difficult it is to get this unique, free tool to employers and those looking for work.

 

Seth Godin – talks about the Purple Cow.  When we have so much choice and so little time, we often don’t see what’s there unless it’s remarkable.  Cost & risk free recruitment without any catch is remarkable and still doesn’t get ‘word of mouth spread’  What are your thoughts on spreading the word?

 

 

 

 

New look Growing Talent is open!

To mark our 5th anniversary in February 2019 of our planned one-off pilot in 2014, we have streamlined the framework of Growing Talent.

 

It retains all the core elements including selection without cvs, provisional permanent job offer upfront on selection by an employer, orientation week before going on site, a total of four weeks training in the vacant role and a holistic week during which life skills including personal finance, fitness, nutrition on a budget and qualification as a mental health first aider.  So what has changed? instead of 12 weeks, it’s now six weeks long.  All parts have to be completed.  There is no uncertainty when someone will be employed.

 

This will deliver transparency for employers, participants and those referring them.  Provision has been put in place to enable an extension based on individual circumstances and only by agreement with all parties.  Equally, those going into roles requiring minimum training, such as barista, will be employed after the orientation week and return for the mental health first aider qualification on the holistic week – again, by arrangement.

 

This year we move to a new training venue – etc venues – away from Southwark Cathedral.  As a public venue the facilities at the Cathedral were not appropriate.

 

Those selected by employers – known as Growing Talent Associates – will enjoy a breakfast, choice of lunches, afternoon tea plus unlimited refreshments throughout the day.  This investment should return commitment and focus thereby pushing numbers up of those going into work.

 

Diverse employers took part in 2018 including Ballymore, Connect Plus Services M25, Acuity Services, Portico, MitieTDM, Pertemps, Harris & Hoole, Scotscape, ME Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, Harrow Green & many more.

 

Some great life changing stories lie ahead no doubt………

Everything in balance…………

Isn’t life strange?  Following a trying period when everything was going wrong and I least expected it, a number of great things happened.

 

I almost thought I’d have to cancel the Holistic Week entirely for Growing Talent as there was only one person left on it!  The rest had gone into work early.  But then the employer of two of the guys agreed to let them attend for the MHFA course and a couple of managers joined us.  It went ahead and was great fun…

 

Especially great to see the feedback on my personal delivery ……

 

‘Jane delivered in an engaging thought providing and accessible way.  She was excellent!’

 

Then I had notification from Shennell on Growing Talent 6 who had nominated me for a Mayor of London Award as an Amazing Woman – what an accolade.

 

Finally a message on Linkedin from Norma who was on The Real Apprentice programme I ran previously.  She was on the programme back in  2011. She was writing to tell me that following my advice and guidance she did go to Birkbeck University and graduated!  A massive achievement from where she was.

 

It’s uplifting to know I’ve made a difference.  We all need to know when we’ve done a great job so never miss an opportunity to thank people and tell them what a difference they’ve made to you.  Not only will it make them feel great, you will too!

 

Growing Talent’s Holistic Week…….

The definition of ‘holistic’ aptly fits what we cover on Growing Talent’s Holistic Week……. Dealing with the mind as well as the body delivers lifelong learning and empowerment.

 

18-23 June inclusive saw our return to Southwark Cathedral for this element of the Growing Talent programme.  We generally start with the two day Mental Health First Aider course which delivers a qualification.  An intense two days of growth in how we see mental health.  This time we were joined by Sirio an employer from Ballymore.  The MHFA is so thick, the guys get a gym workout by default – who needs weights!

 

‘I think it was very informative and raises awareness on the importance of our mental health’

 

‘I felt confident in my knowledge of mental health before the course but I had no idea how to deal with it.  I do now!’

 

After an intense couple of days, we relaxed a little with ‘fun learning’.  In Everyday Finance we cover amongst other things bank accounts, standing orders, direct debit, credit and debit cards, debt management, the power of money, saving and basic investing options – generally how to make the most of our money.

 

‘This workshop made me more penny conscious!’  ‘It made me challenge the way I currently bank’.

 

Just as putting the right petrol in a car is key to it’s efficient running, so is eating/drinking the right things for us humans!  Kate from HBN (Health Bites Nutrition) shared some myth busting knowledge as well as healthy swaps and eating nutritionally on a budget.  The practical was making a healthy pot noodle which the guys reported on the following day as being great and something they would repeat.  Shae even said she might reduce her visits to the chicken shop!!!

 

 

A curve ball on the Holistic Week is always the Art project.  The guys have to agree on which art gallery they will visit – The Tate Modern or The National.  Armed with their project sheet, they pick a piece which ‘speaks to them’.  Either love it or hate it.  They then have to ask a series of questions and bring their completed sheet in the following day.  The purpose of this is to make everyone make use of these free institutions we’re lucky to have in London.  By asking questions whilst looking at exhibitions, it makes appreciation easier and effectively reduces stress levels without even realising it!  Although there was some hesitancy at the start, all the guys enjoyed this exercise…..

 

 

‘It wasn’t something I’d choose to do but it was a new experience.  I enjoyed it.  Art is a tool to de-stress’.

 

‘I haven’t visited an art gallery for years.  I liked this visit and it made we realise my appetite for art is maturing and growing.  I found the drawing exercises therapeutic and will use my drawing kit as an escape from my work life’.

 

Next time you think of grabbing a quick bite at your desk, why not grab a quick bite outside with a pad and pencil.  Just drawing what you see is a great de-stresser, reboots your energy levels and makes you way more productive in the afternoon.  Why not try it?

 

 

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.

 

International Women’s Day – what does it mean to you?

To me it’s a time to respect those women who everyday work hard to deliver real change to benefit others.  If can be someone locally running a drop in club for new mothers – who are naturally terrified of the responsibility  – to people like Helen Taylor Thompson – 93yrs young who was a spy in WWII, set up the first AIDS hospice in Europe and now works in using technology in the treatment of AIDS patients.

 

No matter how small their impact is on our lives, for me, it’s about telling them!

 

I am honoured to work with some amazing people on Growing Talent (www.growing-talent.co.uk).  Today I received an email from one of them who was on the programme over 2 years ago to thank me for my support.  I’m still buzzing!

 

Happy international women’s day!! Thanks for encouraging me to seek counselling and stay strong, it’s what got me through a lot and still keeps me going. Had to thank you once again in light of today as it’s what inspires me to stay strong so I can encourage other women one day.’

 

Why not use this auspicious day to tell those women who inspire you, about the impact they have had on you.  You’ll make their day and give solid meaning to #IWD2018!

8 months – what a transformation…..

Whilst in the London office, I bumped into Phil – one of the Mitie managers in Service Solutions – seen on the right with Jamie ex-Growing Talent Associate.

 

Phil selected Jamie in July 2017 on the 13th programme.  Jamie had never held a permanent, full-time role but had a strong work ethic.  He was really confident at home and with friends, but it was a different story in the corporate glass building that  he would be based in.

 

Jamie picked up the role really quickly.  He has been so supportive of his team from day 1 that when it came to the annual Graduation in December, Jamie didn’t stick around for the adulation and photos.  He wanted to get back to his team as they were so busy with the Christmas rush!

 

Today, I bumped into Phil who gave a glowing report on Jamie. ‘He always works late if necessary, supports the team and even covered two departments on his own.  He really is up there with the great personalities  we’ve had on Growing Talent’.

 

It’s lovely to hear how well everyone continues to do.  Jamie truly is a fab role model for others to follow.

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