Historic Snapshot of Jane’s Work

In December 2013 I was invited to set-up a Limited company to devise/deliver/manage an employment programme to remove barriers to employment, build individual emotional intelligence, give employers exposure to untapped local talent and brought together employers, JobCentre Plus and charities.  

Most importantly, 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.  

A clear employment journey with integrity running through it – what’s not to like?

So, Jane James’s Consultancy Ltd was born and the formation of Growing Talent commenced.

In February 2014, a pilot Growing Talent commenced.  Since March 2020, Growing Talent has been adapted to run virtually due to 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.

The ‘no brainer’ starting point 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. 

In short, a secure, no risk mutual test drive for both parties.

With strong links already to JobCentre Plus from the previous Real Apprentice programme, negotiations were quickly underway to work out the process for Growing Talent to fit with the constraints of JobCentre Plus. The attraction that all applicants selected by an employer for a place on Growing Talent would have a permanent job ring fenced for them that they trained in delivered the flexibilities needed from JobCentre Plus’s management.  

This is not only an employment programme but a holistic journey as well – mental health and wellbeing, nutrition, self empowerment, communication and fitness as well as personal financial planning are all included in the orientation and holistic workshops delivered.  

Format today (2021):

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.  


  • 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
  • Individual invited to meet all employers taking part – no cv, no formal interview
  • Employers make their selection following a second 1-2-1 meeting
  • Combined orientation and holistic week
  • Journey book issued containing weekly appraisals for progress evaluation as individual starts training in the vacant role.
  • Fourth week – on successful completion the individual becomes an employee.
  • I mentor both employer and their selected applicant on the journey.

Throughout this process, individuals retain their benefits and has 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 174 have completed and gone into work.

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 living close to Canary Wharf for vacancies in corporate mailrooms. This ‘one off’ 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 for employment or life.  

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.  Employers undertook work experience within their teams delivering core skills for the workplace and the commitment required in accepting a job.

On completion of the eight weeks, individuals went through interview practice and protocol with me – back in the day when handshakes were the norm! We then held an interview open day event where all would be interviewed for jobs available – not necessarily with those employers they had spent their work experience tenure with.

75% secured permanent employment! Many developed into long term careers with their employers and two went on to recruit team members from Growing Talent!

The Real Apprentice didn’t have a guaranteed job on completion. To incentivise everyone, there was a £500 prize for the most committed Real Apprentice!

Awards the Real Apprentice won included:

Open Doors Social Justice, 2013

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

Lord Mayor of London Dragon Award for Economic Regeneration 2012

National Training Awards London – 2012

Finalist in CIPD Talent Attraction and Management 2012

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

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

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

UK National Training Awards (NTA) 2006

PFM Awards – People in Partnership 2006

The Real Apprentice was based on my experience of trying to get a job after a ten year gap with various ‘labels’ which stopped an employer giving me a chance. I eventually offered to work for someone for a week on the agreement I would be unpaid, but if I added value, it’s be given a permanent job. I worked in that role for over four years.

The rest is history!