Calling all Growing Talent Graduates….

Lockdown has been tough for us all.  The frustrations, thoughts and fears can run high.  It’s easy to overthink things especially when thinking about the future and what a return to work will look like.

 

A few of us graduates are getting together via Zoom to share our thoughts and support each other.

 

If you have been through Growing Talent and would like to join us, contact me for details.

 

Our inaugural Zoom meeting takes place Monday 1 June 2020.

Growing Talent is coming to Birmingham!

After a successful five+ years running Growing Talent in central London, we are running our first dedicated programme in Birmingham City Centre in March 2020.

 

If you are looking for new talent and want a risk and free way to do this, get in touch – jane@thejjc.net.

 

If you live within easy reach of Birmingham City Centre, are currently unemployed but want to work – why not check us out.  More information at http://www.growing-talent.co.uk or speak with your work coach at Job Centre Plus.

 

The time for a new challenge is now!

 

 

The end of Growing Talent for 2019

Our Graduation on 16 December marks the closure of Growing Talent for 2019.  Thanks to the funders, it will be back in 2020 with 6 new programmes confirmed.

 

As we approach closure of this year, I reflect back on the trials and triumphs of 2019 for Growing Talent.

First the trials!

January 2019 we kicked off with the new format of Growing Talent – reducing down the time spent training in the vacant role with the employer from 10 weeks to four.  The Orientation and Holistic weeks remain the same. This has caused a few concerns.  For those people who have multiple barriers to employment, four weeks isn’t always long enough to grow in confidence to be sure the end role is the right role.

JobCentre Plus has been restructured with leads who knew Growing Talent well moved to different roles.  This has meant a vastly reduced support from East, West and North London districts.  Unfortunately, this meant we lost an excellent employer with great roles based around the M25.

With the full roll out of Universal Credit, JobCentre Plus has little contact with unemployed people who just need a confidence boost.  Each JobCentre is authorised to display what posters they want.  With so many of their own Government programmes, Growing Talent posters were never put up!  Therefore, those people submitted by JobCentre Plus often have more barriers to overcome in their quest for employment.

 

Now the Triumphs! – which for me eclipse the trials!

From January – December 2019 we had 34 unemployed people start Growing talent from all social, educational backgrounds.  Out of these, 27 completed Growing Talent and secured their permanent jobs.

 

We had our first father and son success story!  Referred by a friend who secured their role on Growing Talent in 2018, Navin applied and secured his role with Mitie based at Embankment Place.  Navin introduced his dad Nalin to me.  A fascinating career with diverse experience including a long tenure supporting the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to London!  After multiple senior management roles, Nalin decided to retire.  When he realised it was too early and he wanted to return to work, he encountered employers looking at his past experience rather than what he wanted to do now.  After an introduction, Nalin started a night role as hotel manager with Club Quarters.  He told me last week he’s now secured the day role he wanted at another Club Quarters Hotel and is very happy!

 

Bernie who was on the same Growing Talent with Navin, wanted to go to Canada and see a bear.  He told me a few weeks back he’d achieved his dream.  Bumping into the Graduates of Growing Talent and seeing them achieve their goals and grow so much is awe inspiring.

 

I know from the feedback all participants give me at each stage of their journey, Growing Talent has literally changed their lives.

 

The triumphs far outweigh the trials!

 

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 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?

The final countdown…..

So the final Growing Talent kick’s off tomorrow with the Orientation Week.  The 24th programme.  Over the five years Growing Talent has run it has seen 157 go into direct, permanent employment with a potential four more on the current programme – Daniel, Juliet, Debbie and Tequila.

 

Many employers have been involved from hotels to corporates, filling diverse roles from manual, hospitality to office, HR, administration etc.

 

It’s been a great journey so far and will hopefully continue into 2020 and beyond – funders willing of course!

 

We wish Daniel, Debbie, Juliet and Tequila a fab journey over the weeks ahead as their confidence, skills and ability grow to secure their permanent jobs.

 

Check back to see how they get on….

Who is where in the Growing Talent 21 world?

  Jamilatou & Kelly with Ewen recruitment manager for ME Hotel Group.

 

 

Navin, Bernie & Amar are all joining MitieTDM at PwC.  Pictured alongside Lois – MitieTDM & Allen – PwC

 

Below – Charlie-Ray & Katrina with their managers at Portico – Julie & Gary

 

 

Above Heaven with Dan Recruitment Manager at Firmdale Hotels, Natasha, Robert & Drew between them going to Covent Garden Hotel & Haymarket.

 

Featured above are Adeyinka and his manager from ISS – Andy.  Stephen also joined Adeyinka at ISS.

 

Diverse talent and backgrounds amongst the guys with some brilliant stories of personal growth and development ahead.

Workshops – how were they on the Orientation Week?

Growing Talent is not a ‘refer and forget programme’.  It’s not just about the Growing Talent Associates being evaluated for their roles but for them to evaluate all parts of Growing Talent too!  We all have a voice – let’s use them!

 

What was the best part of the orientation Week?

‘Learning about the 5Ps and building the Social Enterprise’

‘Learning how to cope with stress’

‘The presentations and meeting the employers’

‘Learning more communication skills’

‘The Art Therapy class’

‘Personally for me it was how to breath properly and deal with pressure’

 

What was it like delivering your Social Enterprise idea to a panel of managers?

‘I was slightly nervous, however, I did better than I expected to do using the skills taught over the week’

‘I was more nervous than I though I would be – but overall it was positive and showed me I can be more confident’

‘I was nervous but covered everything I’d prepared and delivered it confidently too’

‘I was so nervous but did it – and won – I’m so proud of myself’

‘I was nervous at the start but the more I talked about my idea the more confident I grew’

‘This for me was the highlight of the week.  Made me develop my thoughts, do meaningful research and overcome nerves.  The judges were really welcoming’

 

This is the question I always dread on the evaluations!: –

What are your thoughts on the trainer – Jane James?

‘She is very knowledgeable, warm and humane whilst also strict and no surprises. Her programme is the  most helpful opportunity I’ve had’

‘Jane was nice, helpful and wise’

‘Amazing’

‘Very nice and helpful.  Engaging and interesting’

‘Great – Jane is very knowledgeable about the business world and delivers a very positive, honest approach.’

‘I think Jane is genuinely down to earth and to the point.  She doesn’t mince her words.  I found her very helpful and understanding this week.’

 

Asked ‘if you could go back to the beginning – would you still apply for Growing Talent?

 

I’ve very pleased to say there was a resounding YES!

 

Check back to see how the guys get on over the coming weeks…..

 

 

 

 

 

Orientation – the fun way!

After 5 years, 2019 saw the introduction of a sleek new format for Growing Talent.  Now 6 weeks long with, in exceptional circumstances, the ability to lengthen this to a max 12 weeks, it still has the two core elements essential to completing the Growing Talent journey – Orientation Week & Holistic Week.

 

The Orientation Week takes place after selection but prior to going on the employer’s site and training in the vacant role.  This is designed to build confidence, set challenges, raise self-esteem and of course building team work.

 

A new venue as well at Etc Venues in Eastcheap saw the additional of breakfast for all Growing Talent Associates each morning on the Orientation !

 

A selection of cereals, cold meats, cheese, pastries and of course a smoothie corner!

 

The coffee centre for cappuccino, lattes as well as teas was a welcome shot of caffeine during the week!

 

Monday saw Lesley – Head of H&S at PwC join us to deliver her invigorating 3Rs (Refresh, Renewal and Rejuvenate) workshop designed to enhance wellbeing.

 

Lesley shared her top tips on healthy choices, staying awake and energised as well as the amount of ingredients in a shop brought muffin (you really don’t want to know the answer!)

 

On Tuesday we were joined by Emma from Unravelling Minds who delivered not only her experience of intense workload causing her mental health issues but how she used art therapy as a recovery tool and now uses it as a solid wellbeing tool.

 

You could hear a pin drop as Emma set tasks for the guys to complete.  All agreed they were so much more relaxed after Emma’s workshop and would use the tools she’d given them during lunch breaks etc to stay mindful of their own wellbeing – a crucial attribute for us all.

 

Wednesday we focused on public speaking and presentations as well as discussing all ideas for the Social Enterprise challenge at the end of the week.  This comprises each Growing Talent Associate devising and delivering an idea to benefit a local community.  It must have a revenue stream and be ‘doable’.  This is delivered before a panel of managers from their employer sites who decide on the winner for the £50 cash prize!

 

Case studies, communication, skills gap analysis, conflict management, employment etiquette, challenges under the Equalities Act 2010, what if scenarios, networking tasks as well as how to do a good handshake made up middle of the week.

 

Jade from Customer Care First (CCF) joined us on Thursday to share knowledge of the intricacies of speaking, listening, annunciation, body language etc – communication is pretty tough to do right!

 

Jade above explaining the core elements of communication.

Estela, Joseph and Abraham above with Jade trying to list what conversations are ok to have with colleagues – not as easy as you might thing under the Equalities Act 2010 – challenges can be made by third parties who overhear what you say!

 

Empowered by the week and what they had achieved, we were ready for the Social Enterprise challenge.

 

Judges l-r Antonia – Portico, Jamie – Red Personnel, Adam – PwC, Julie – Portico, Ebb – Crown Plaza & Mark – PwC

 

The judges listened to six excellent ideas before deciding Jess’s ‘Wake up – to Make-up’ was the winner.

 

 Jess collecting her prize from Adam of PwC

 

To finish off, we had an excellent networking lunch.

 

So what did the guys think of the week?  Just a few comments below…..

 

‘The Orientation Week helps you gain confidence, learn about the work culture and polish our own skills.  It is a good way to prepare yourself for going into/back to work.  Growing Talent offers  high quality training.  It takes Associates seriously and acknowledges their talent.  I have never been on anything like this before.  I feel valued.’

 

‘The Orientation Week is so worth doing because it helps you build confidence for your workplace so you can be even better at what you do.’

 

‘I’m glad Growing Talent exists’

 

‘The Orientation Week enables you to transition into work more smoothly.  It gives you skills you can use as a head start in your role.  Fab – what an amazing opportunity!’

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

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