Employability – Current & Historic

In December 2013 I was invited to set-up a Limited company to devise/deliver/manage an employment programme which removed barriers to employment, built individual self esteem, gave employers exposure to untapped local talent and brought together employers, JobCentre Plus and charities.  Most importantly of all it would be a holistic partnership with a permanent job offer upfront which would be the individual’s on successful completion.  No risk.  No confusion.  Clear employment journey with integrity running through it.

In February 2014, a pilot Growing Talent commenced.  Since March 2020, Growing Talent has been on hold pending control of the Coronavirus pandemic.  The following covers detail of Growing Talent’s evolvement from conception to now as well as historic detail on the Real Apprentice – a predecessor to Growing Talent.


A unique way for businesses to grow their own talent!  …. true Social Mobility – changing lives…..

The challenge I was given was to devise and deliver an employment programme with a difference.   The USP is 100% into work who complete the 1full-time programme.    The ‘no brainer’ was to identify employers with full-time vacancies.  They could effectively ‘grow their own talent’ in situ without any cost over the duration of Growing Talent. Having a potential member of staff  in place to see their personality, team/client interaction as well as growth potential before the cost of hiring is very attractive.   Equally for someone who has been unemployed and dealing with various issues in life – to have the opportunity of a job which will lead to a career without the fear factor of a formal interview or having the ‘right’ cv is unique. With strong links already to JobCentre Plus, negotiations were quickly underway to work out the process for Growing Talent!   This is not only an employment programme but a holistic journey as well – mental health and wellbeing, nutrition and fitness as well as personal financial planning are all delivered.  The results have been amazing.

Format today (2020):

From January 2020 Growing Talent is now five weeks long including a combined orientation and holistic week at the start following selection by the employer.  This is followed by four weeks training in the vacant role.  Depending on individual circumstances and nature of the job on offer, by agreement with all parties, the duration can be lengthened up to a maximum of 10 weeks.  Following the arrival of the pandemic in March, Growing Talent has been adapted to run virtually once employers are ready to recruit again.

  • Announcement of Growing Talent programme to JobCentre Plus, charities and on http://www.growing-talent.co.uk.
  • Registration forms requested by applicants
  • Compatibility 1-2-1 meeting – either socially distanced meeting in London or virtual meeting online
  • Decision on whether individual goes forward or not
  • Individual invited to meet all employers taking part – either socially distanced or virtual online
  • Employers make their selection for a more in-depth discussion with their shortlist
  • 1-2-1 meetings with employers take place socially distanced on their site
  • If provisional job offers are made and accepted, individuals attend the combined orientation and holistic week either socially distanced or virtually online
  • Individual starts training in the vacant role on the employers site undergoing weekly appraisals.
  • Fourth week – on successful completion the individual becomes an employee.
  • Dedicated mentor for both the individual and employer.

Throughout this process, individuals retain their benefits and have their travel paid.  On successful completion, they receive an additional month travel payment.  For those who do not like the role and leave before completion or their behaviour is not compatible with Growing Talent and they are removed, they revert to their obligations at JobCentre Plus.  Note:  no one has an automatic right to a place on Growing Talent.

224 people aged 18-64 have started Growing Talent since 2014 out of which 166 have completed and gone into work.

The Growing Talent Brochure is completely free to download.  It gives information for employers and those looking to take part.

Check it out…… Growing Talent Brochure 3 – January 2019

Growing Talent Brochure 3rd edition Jan 2019

For more information about the programme see http://www.growing-talent.co.uk and on Twitter @Growing_Talent.


The Real Apprentice 

Devised in 2004, the Real Apprentice was essentially an eight week work experience programme running Monday-Thursday.  Initially devised as a one one-off to find local staff to Canary Wharf for vacancies in corporate mailrooms, it was so successful it ran until 2013 and secured year on year awards – see below for more details.

The issue for many 16-24 aged people at the time was the deprivation of local communities.  Ofter experiencing third even fourth generation unemployment, there was no positive role models.  The basics of what getting a job meant were unknown resulting in a high churn of vacancies in this area.  The Real Apprentice was designed to take the pressure off.  Those selected by employers were guaranteed training within their business with regular appraisals and guidance.  At the interviews were held for all vacancies.  75% secured permanent employment through the Real Apprentice close to 700 people. Many people developed into management roles through the Real Apprentice and one has taken part several times in Growing Talent to find committed staff for his team.  The circle of employment life!  Whilst there wasn’t a guaranteed job on the Real Apprentice there was £500 prize given annually.

Awards won 

For Growing Talent

Personnel Today 2015 – HR Supplier Partnership Award – Finalist Jane James Consultancy

Personnel Today

Personnel Today 2015 – Innovation in Recruitment – Finalist PwC I&P (Growing Talent)


For The Real Apprentice

Open Doors Social justice awards 2013 for Real Apprentice

Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion – Macro And Tapping into Talent categories 2012 – for Real Apprentice

Lord Mayor of London Dragon Award for Economic Regeneration 2012 – for Real Apprentice

National Training Awards London – 2012 – for Real Apprentice

Finalist in CIPD Talent Attraction and Management 2012 – for Real Apprentice

Winner of UK leg of the European Employee Volunteering Awards (EEVA) sponsored by the European Commission to recognise programmes which remove the barriers to employment – January 2011 – for Real Apprentice

European winner of Innovation category of EEVA – March 2011 for Real Apprentice

Opportunity Now Directing Diverse Talent, 2010 – personal recognition award

Mental Health First Aid Champion award – 2010

Race for Opportunity – Widening the Talent Pool 2009 – Real Apprentice

BiTC Big Tick award for Employability 2007-2009, and 2011 for Workplace inclusion – Reaccredited 2012 – for Real Apprentice

UK National Training Awards (NTA) 2006 – Real Apprentice

PFM Awards – People in Partnership 2006 – for Real Apprentice

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