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

Will it work?

Today sees the official launch of the Government’s Kick Start programme aimed at  unemployed 18-24 year olds.  The idea, as reported in the press this morning, is Government will pay employers £1,500 per head towards a 25 per week, six month work experience placement.  The Government’s idea is many will be kept on or step into permanent jobs elsewhere.  Referrals will be made by JobCentre Plus staff.  One of the first employers to sign-up is Tesco who want 1,000 people.

Check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53985144

 

Alarm bells are ringing for me.  I wonder if this has been thought through properly.  We have evidence from various previous work programmes including the recent Future Jobs Fund which doesn’t seem to have been learned from going by the press reports today.

 

My concerns are:

 

  1.     Will there be vetting of employers to ensure integrity that these unemployed young people won’t be scarred further by being used for six months in basic roles with nothing at the end?
  2.     Is a robust audit trail in place so all parties are accountable and progress/gaps in training are addressable?
  3.     What ‘work experience’ elements will be focussed on to ensure attractiveness to employers who do have jobs but don’t want to have to ‘re-train’ bad habits?
  4.     How can employers in good consciousness take part if they have furloughed/made their own staff redundant?
  5.     JobCentre Plus staff are on a huge recruitment drive themselves with thousands being recruited into Work Coach positions.  How will KickStart be managed to ensure any concerns raised are investigated quickly?

 

At Growing Talent, we know it’s successful even where there are multiple barriers to employment in place for unemployed individuals because:

 

  1.     There is a dedicated mentor for individuals, employers and sole contact with JobCentre Plus leads to monitor progress and address issues immediately
  2.     There is a robust audit trail to highlight progress/training gaps
  3.     It’s five weeks long including a week orientation and holistic whole person skills
  4.     There are robust employer and participant agreements in place
  5.     There is a permanent job ring-fenced for the individual at the start of the journey which is theirs on completion

 

I would personally be more reassured if this KickStart programme was targeting future industries – Artificial Intelligence, Coding, green energies or industries that usually look at degree education/experience such as financial services.  To ask someone to work for six months with no guaranteed job on completion with employers like Tesco fills me with concern.  What about you?

 

 

 

 

 

Orientation Week – What Is it? What happens?

The Orientation Week is a series of workshops to boost confidence of those applicants selected by employers for a place on Growing Talent, delivering a permanent, full-time job on completion.  It’s carried out at a central London location prior to applicants going on site with their employers.

 

For the whole of 2019, we’ve carried out all speed dating events, orientation and holistic weeks are Etc Venues in Eastcheap.  Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea is provided along with fresh fruit, tea/coffee/hot chocolate, herbal teas and smoothies/orange juice with breakfast.

 

From the start of the Growing Talent journey, all participants – known as Growing Talent Associates – feel invested in and start increasing their self-esteem.  Their #YesICan attitude increases massively.

 

During the Orientation Week we have visiting professionals to share communication, art therapy and workplace choices to increase knowledge.

 

Within 10 minutes of arriving for the start of the Orientation Week, Associates are tasked with their first challenge.  To draw a set number of images about milestones in their life and then present them.  Yes, public speaking in front of strangers!  It works every time to showcase just how strong Associates are.  They start believing in themselves, not the perception of their labels.

 

During this week, Jade from CCF (Customer Care First – an excellent training company Jade started) delivers her bespoke 2 hour workshop with the Associates sharing all the nuances of communication from body language, spatial awareness, tone, emphasis etc to the topics to avoid in effective communication.

 

Daniel going to Pertemps and Tequila going to Churchill Services discuss topics that are ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ to discuss with clients…..

 

Debbie and Juliet – both going to Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster, doing the same task as Daniel and Tequila above but addressee colleagues/managers….

 

Jade and the guys above discussing the importance of tongue twisters for loosening facial muscles making it easier to speak for longer.

 

Tequila and Juliet experiencing how important communication is.  Juliet is holding a picture of a pair of boots which she has to describe to Tequila who draws what she hears.  Laughter aside, it proves the point we need to ask questions and probe to make sure we have the right information to complete our tasks at work.  As Tequila said ‘I never asked if it was a pair!’

 

The Jade’s session ended with smiles all round in the knowledge the Associates have more knowhow in communication!

 

Lesley, Head of Health, Safety & Environment at PwC always delivers her excellent ‘Zest for Life’ workshop featuring the 3Rs – Refuel, Rejuvinate and Renewal.  Knowledge, information and tips for Associates to look after themselves on the Growing Talent journey and beyond!

 

 

Lesley introduces herself and shares her journey of how she got her current role which was unplanned and totally unexpected but ended up being something she loves.

 

Explaining how humans were not designed for the predominantly desk based jobs we do now, she asked the Associates to think of their roles and come up with suggestions of a body to do their tasks adequately.  As you can see the two heads/multiple arms in the drawing below look like something of a SciFi prototype!  However, if shows we must be vigilant in taking care of ourselves so our bodies do not suffer.

 

A key thing is our body bank balance!  Things such as coffee – too much is bad but if we follow each cup of coffee with a cup of water it balances out.

 

Lesley then shared tips on nutrition, saving money by making our own lunches, batch cooking and freezing as well as top tips on relaxation and finding what works for us.

 

She then set the task of each pair of Associates thinking of three questions for the opposing pair to answer based on her workshop.

 

Tequila & Daniel devising their questions…..

 

Debbie & Juliet devising their questions for Tequila and Daniel.  I’m glad to report all gave the right answers #payingattention

 

Smiles all round as Lesley left after sharing key knowledge…..

 

Emma from Unravelling Minds attends to deliver her Art Therapy workshop and join the Associates for lunch after.

 

 

Emma shares her journey from high powered/pressurised career in fashion to complete mental health breakdown.  Art was a particular feature in her recovery and she now shares her learning with others.  Previously involved with Balloons and the Brain and now Unravelling Minds, Emma runs a unique cafe.  A safe non-clinical environment for people to bake and talk together – CBT_Cafe (Cake Before Therapy – what’s not to like!). Check out the remaining dates and information on Emma’s journey below.

 

Whilst sharing her journey, Emma invites the Associates to select one of three challenges to see how art during their lunch breaks or at any quiet time calms the mind.

  1.     Heart full of favourite things
  2.     Graffiti newspaper
  3.     Illustrate your Growing Talent mantra
  4.     Start with a doodle and see where it takes you

The concentration and quiet in the room was amazing!

Daniel’s mantra with it’s hidden message uncovered

Debbie taking up the graffiti challenge!

Juliet focussing on her favourite things.

Tequila starting off with a doodle which soon filled the page!

Juliet also shared her steps of affirmation.

Time for a group shot before an interactive lunch together.

Various workshops with me continued throughout the week ending with the Social Enterprise Challenge.  Up for grabs was £50 cash.

 

The running challenge throughout the week is to devise and deliver a social enterprise to benefit a local community and vulnerable group living there.

 

Judges l-r seated are Anna – JobCentre Plus, Judith – Churchill Services, Pedro – Head Judge from Pertemps and Shennell – Growing Talent Ambassador who completed Growing Talent on the 5th programme!

Associates standing l-r are Juliet, Tequila, Debbie & Daniel.

First to present was Debbie delivering her Brighter Futures.  Based in Wandsworth it focussed on upskilling ex-offenders by teaching them skills to refurbish a venue given by Wandsworth Council.  These skills would enable them to apply for roles with the Council in maintenance as well as FM companies.  In return the ex-offenders would share their bad choices and consequences with excluded 10-13 year olds with the target of enabling them to make the right choices.  Professionals from law, social services, medical etc would attend to help with any issues the participants experienced.  A safe space to learn, grow and become more productive.

Next to present was Daniel with his Health Hotspot based in Orpington.  Daniel described the location and need for information and choices for better health.  Many people develop intolerances to certain food groups.  Learning from others with the same intolerance on recipes, adapting ingredients etc would be hugely beneficial and break down barriers.  Equally people making choices based on media/fashion such as ‘clean’ diet, ‘sugar free’ – often includes sugar under a different name!, ‘vegan’ – how to ensure you get enough protein and so on.  Learning together builds community spirit.

Juliet’s presentation ‘Brotherhood Marching Together’ targeting the stigma within the Afro Caribbean community towards prostrate cancer using colour, music, joy and information was delivered with passion based on Juliet’s own family experience of the disease.  ‘Afro Caribbean men don’t talk about such things’. Mindful of inclusivity Juliet wanted all men in the Brixton area where she lives to be included.  So men can support men regardless of their cultural background.  Using the 02 at Brixton for the end music extravaganza, the day would start at the Museum of Black History with cancer charity specialists in place to talk about the stigma.  Affected men and their families can ask questions in a non-clinical environment.  Moving to the square where a plethora of stalls for music, food, clothes would highlight all cultures in the area breaking down barriers.  All money raised from entry fees etc would go to research.  The event would build support structures for all concerned.

Finally, Tequila shared her vision of Take Action.  A unique idea to upskill low income parents in turning their houses into homes and also making them more employable with these new skills such as painting and decorating, tiling, plumbing and so on.  Tequila shared her view that children of low income families are often introverted and don’t have a voice.  Take Action would enable the children to design their bedrooms to be their ‘space’ and give them confidence in using their voice.  Supported by local colleges and organisations like B&Q the change delivered would be lifelong and really make a different.

The judges had a tough time whittling down these great ideas to just one winner.  Who was it????

Juliet collecting her £50 prize from head judge Pedro….

Ahead of lunch with the Associates, the judges shared their journey to the current roles along with their top tips for shining at work.

 

After completing their evaluations after lunch, the Associates left to relax over the weekend ahead of starting on their employer sites.

 

Check back to see how they get on…..

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……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holistic Week – Growing Talent…..

This is the ‘soft skills’ section of Growing Talent’s 12 week programme.  Usually carried out halfway through.  It’s a time for the Growing Talent Associates to meet up again and encourage each other face-to-face as well as learn some wellbeing techniques and ‘kick back’ a little from their usual work timetable!

 

We returned to Southwark Cathedral were we held the Orientation Week back in early February!  At least no more presentations before senior managers!

So what did we cover?:

Monday – parts 1 & s of Mental Health First Aid – a global course resulting in a qualification as a MHFAider.  This is an intense four part global programme so we lightened the learning a little with Lesley’s 3Rs!

 

Lesley, seen above, is part of the Health & Safety team at PwC.  Her 3Rs are Refuel, Recycle and  Refresh. It’s all about what to eat, how much sleep, exercise all the usual things we need to consider when making choices.  It’s especially difficult doing this on a strict budget!

‘I got a lot of information which I’ll put into practice!’ ‘Another important segment that allowed growth within the unknown.’

Tuesday – saw parts 3 and 4 of the MHFA programme be completed.  This time, Healthy Bites  Nutrition was sandwiched  between the two sections.  This invaluable workshop by Kate from HBN (www.hbnutrition.org) dispels myths around diets, the latest fads and new guidelines – such as only 7 tsp of sugar a day.  Kate shares the cost savings in making your own food, cost comparison and ingredients as well as how to eat quickly prepared nutritious meals on a budget!

 

Kate below preparing the Associates for making their own Pot Noodle!

 

A good workshop for sustaining health both in and out of work” ” I know what food groups are now!’

 

Sharing why recycling waste is so important was Dan from Suez, on the left below, on Wednesday.  This got everyone thinking.  A quick roundtable showed the difference between residential recycling across boroughs.  Indeed one of the Associates who has never recycled was inspired to go through her bins!

 

 

Thursday we talked finance.  Covering the basics we should know around debt, regular payments budgets, and so on. It’s surprising how well received this workshop is but on reflection maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising.  After all, where do you learn this stuff if you don’t have supportive, informed parents? Does the Education system have the time to do this?

 

‘The 3 x thirds will be really useful’, ‘I learnt about saving money and ISAs – really useful when we start earning’, ‘this was the most important topic covered for me’ ‘I learnt how to plan ahead’ ‘One million % worth it.  I understand now how to be financially stable.’

In the afternoon it was off to do an Art project!  Terrifying for some!  Their task was to visit Tate Gallery in Bankside and select an item that ‘spoke’ to them.  This could be in a good or bad way.

 

Left to right above inside the Tate are Mokhtar, Leon, Zainab, Ilamathy, Stefan, Ashley, Sebastien & John.

 

Friday morning we had a good discussion on their visit to the Tate, why they selected their piece of art and what they would ask the artist……… then they had to draw it!  You can see the results in the feature photo.  So much laughter in the room.  For some it ignited a childhood love of drawing for others it opened their eyes to a possible new creative way to feed their soul during lunchtime break and outside of work.

 

After some paperwork we finished up the week at lunchtime.They guys presented me with a lovely gift before going home for a well deserved break!

 

On Monday they returned to their employer sites:  Zainab, Ashley & Mokhtar – Harrow Green, Craig, John & Ashling – Iron Mountain – Ashling had to work this week, Leon – Pertemps, Ilamathy – Red Personnel, Stefan – Mitie Connect and Sebastien at Invest In Buy To Let.

 

It’s a glamorous world………

for Stefan….. so far

 

On Growing Talent, Stefan is working with Mitie Connect at one of their global skincare clients in Fitzrovia, Stefan is exposed to the high-end world of leading brand products – including those new to the marketplace.  Of course this makes him a firm favourite amongst his female circle!

 

Surrounded by boutique shops ‘ including the niche Pollocks Toy Museum below – the local area is buzzing with business.

toy-shop

 

The mechanics of the role with Mitie Connect of Mailroom/Logistics Team  delivers variety – customer integration, problem solving, tracking, packing, despatching, as well as costs and recharges.  All of which suits Stefan.  The potential opportunities being based on this global entity’s site are endless!

 

A small team headed by Wayne, includes Jack and Leon with some support from temps and contractor implants.

 

As you can see below, Stefan on the left looks like ‘an old hand’….

 

team

Wayne, centre above has a lot of industry knowledge and is a ‘great mentor’ said Stefan.

Discussing how it’s gone so far below – both Wayne and Stefan agreed – so far so good!

 

wayne-and-stefan-hub

Wayne is keen to learn the rest of the role, get working so he can save for some holidays abroad to add to the vast amount of countries he’s already visited.  Maybe he can add to his five languages as well!

 

Watch this space to see how Stefan gets on over the coming weeks.

Don’t ask…….don’t get – the power of partnerships

With budget cuts and staff restructuring, it’s always difficult identifying, building and sustaining lasting business relationships.  Even more so in the public sector where new joiners generally receive a one year only renewable contract!

 

Running Growing Talent, I have a solid foundation of central managers from JobCentre Plus supporting the programme who know it very well.  The testing times come when local personnel get involved with little time to understand it.

 

A unique situation arose this week.  For the first time a Growing Talent Associate will be going into an international role.  A passport is critical.  How does someone who has been unemployed for a decade plus afford passport photos, let along the passport itself?

 

Negotiations commenced.  As a passport is essential to the end role, JobCentre Plus are able to cover all associated costs.

 

hallelujah!  Could you image the madness of someone not getting off benefits into a sustainable job due to the cost of a passport?

 

Surely our JobCentres should have the brief and funding to cover whatever an individual to secure a permanent, full-time job.  This could be a toolkit,  office clothes, shoes or passport even!

 

I know as a taxpayer funded organisation JobCentre Plus is accountable but am I the only taxpayer that would be happy to see more people go into work supported with whatever they need to do so?  It’s surely cheaper than a lifetime of benefits!

Judging Panel Formation!

With just a few short weeks to go before kick off, Senior Managers are juggling their diaries and confirming their place on this very special panel.

 

The crux of the event is affirmation of the confidence and talent the Growing Talent Associates have grown over the week.

 

A choice is given to work alone or in small groups.  The remit is to devise a social enterprise idea which will benefit a section of the community, develop a revenue stream and have development potential.  A tall order for largely unemployed people with little self-confidence.

 

Working on this largely in their own time with one full day (broken into shorter segments) it’s amazing to all, including the Associates, the confidence with which they deliver their ideas.

 

It’s always difficult for the senior managers to select one winning idea.  The small trophy has now been replaced with a cash prize of £10 per winning Associate – much more useful that a ‘tin cup’!

 

After this a buffet lunch and networking takes place.  By this time some of the Associates are really ‘assertive’ in getting contact details from the panel!

 

Watch this blog for more stories of success, laughter and a few tears when the next Growing Talent launches later this month…….

 

GT7 and Judges

Seated – the previous judging panel comprising Selvan – Invest In Buy To Let, Julie – Portico, Peter – Wilson James, Lois – MitieTDM, Allen – PwC – Head Judge, Sharon – Harrow Green, Shane – Invest In Buy To Let & Trevor – known by previous Associates as ‘the legend’ Harrow Green.

 

 

Growing Talent – Keeps Growing!

A New Year sees the start of a new Growing Talent programme.  Now on the 8th programme having secured over 60 people into permanent full-time jobs!

 

So far 23 jobs have been pledged by various corporate employers and partners.  Wide ranging roles from Recruitment Consultants, to Receptionists, Administration Clerk, Security Vetting Supervisor, Industrial Cleaning Technicians, Hospitality/Food Services Assistant, Business Moves Porters, Mini Bus Drivers and Forklift Truck Drivers to name a few.  With a salaries ranging up to £25Kpa.

 

Looking forward to the personal growth stories that will follow……………..

 

If you know anyone who could do with some mentoring into a permanent job – direct them to http://www.growing-talent.co.uk………………..

‘So rare – people were laughing and joking together…………….’

I love it when employers I work with are impressed and surprised by the work I do.  This week has been full-on diversity of tasks.

On Monday we had the initial assessments for the next round of Growing Talent – over 45 attendees met with managers from global and national employers.  The five tasks included:

  • Sell yourself on Google – 2 minute sales pitch
  • Follow a process – with a hidden trick!
  • Sell a famous person into a job
  • Debate a contentious issue giving a conclusion as a team
  • Truth & vision – pick one true attribute and one power you would like

Ice was broken.  I’m not sure who was more nervous at the start, the unemployed attendees or the employers!  Great to hear things like ‘that was fun’, ‘I’ve never witnessed anything like this at any assessment day – everyone laughing and joking together’.

I’ve always found it strange in the 20+ years I’ve spent in recruitment and we still cling to recruiting staff in the same way.  We never find out their personality, skills or potential until we’ve employed them.  Growing Talent enables each side to know the other before an employment offer is made delivering commitment and longevity.

Yesterday was spent delivering a 3 hour power house workshop to a national front of house hospitality organisation.  A room full of managers with their minds on their increasing in-trays back at the office.  The core ‘want’ in the room was to learn more about the delicate subject of mental health.  How to approach and support staff and when to escalate to HR/Occupational Health.

Stress levels almost increased for me when I discovered the screen had a HDMI cable not the old style pin connector.  Luckily an old connector was found.  Note to self – upgrade equipment!!!

The room was hot and small – not a great combination for training.  However, the time flew by.  Conversation flowed as did the interaction and contribution of all managers.

At the end of the session, I was really pleased to see all evaluations had been marked ‘good’ – the top score!  Some additional comments:

‘I thought the content was really good and I feel more confident on this issue.’

‘I learnt how to talk to staff about mental health in the workplace’

‘Really informative, definitely makes you look at things differently’.

‘Really good – loved the group exercises’

The end of my week will be focussed on Growing Talent with the Employers Selection on Friday.

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