Tuesday 3 March 2015

Young people hoping to get their foot in the door of local employers are now receiving a helping hand thanks to Sheffield City Council’s new traineeship programme Works for Me, which was formally launched this week.

Works for Me is a practical training programme run by the council’s Lifelong Learning and Skills team and offers integrated work experience and career advice, designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 prepare for an apprenticeship or further employment.

The new purpose built Works for Me centre has now opened its doors at the Avec building, Sidney Street, Sheffield, and provides young people with advice about developing their CV while personalised support helps boost their confidence, motivation, interview skills and ability to demonstrate their potential to an employer.

Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, officially opened the centre. Employers interested in taking on a trainee or apprentice also attended the event alongside some of the scheme’s first recruits and those who have already successfully got their first job.

Cllr Dore said: “Since I  launched the 100 Apprenticeship Scheme in 2011, now in its fifth year with more than 400 young people benefitting, we have been working hard to ensure more young people than ever before have access to apprenticeship opportunities which are suited to their skills and ambitions and which inspire them to develop rewarding careers.

“Developing the Works for Me traineeship programme has been a really important part in helping ensure young people are confident and prepared for their apprenticeship or work placement because it provides them with the core skills they need to really impress employers.

“Our first recruits have worked incredibly hard and we’ve already seen an 80 per cent success rate in terms of young people getting an apprenticeship or job following the course.

“We know that young people have so much to offer so I’d like to encourage as many as possible to come along to our new Works for Me centre to find out more about traineeships, particularly in the run up to

National Apprenticeship Week. This could be the first step on your career ladder.”

The Works for Me traineeship programme currently helps 16 to 24-year-olds who are not in education, employment or further training after leaving school or college. They may also have been applying for apprenticeship schemes unsuccessfully.

The core elements of the traineeship programme are:
– A period of work preparation and training, including confidence building, CV development, interview skills and vacancy matching in line with the interests and skills set of the individual.
– English, maths and ICT training is embedded in all the traineeship programmes and anyone who has not yet achieved a GCSE A* to C in English and maths will be supported to do so.
– A work experience placement for a minimum of 100 hours with an employer who could offer an apprenticeship or job when the placement is over.

Nikita Westlake, 21, of Pitsmoor, is currently attending the Works for Me traineeship programme, which she hopes will lead to a career in business administration.

She said: “I’ve been at the Works for Me centre for three weeks now and I’ve built up a CV from scratch, practiced doing PowerPoint presentations and I’ve generally been learning more about how I can impress future employers.

“I was really interested in Works for Me because the course started straight away, so I didn’t have to wait until September to attend college. It’s also informal and the course leaders are really nurturing and encouraging.

“I know I want to work in business in the future, which of course will take a lot of hard work, so this is the first step to helping make that happen. I’d love to run my own business one day and like a challenge. I think a traineeship course is a great opportunity for young people like me because it gives you the confidence to impress employers and can lead to bigger and better things.”

Rebecca Rodgers, from the Manor, is also taking part in Works for Me. The 16-year-old said: “I was keen to take part in this traineeship so I can successfully get an apprenticeship, preferably in the retail or hospitality sectors. My mum and dad run a shop where I’ve helped out quite a lot so I think I’d really enjoy doing something like that. I liked the Works for Me centre as soon as I arrived because there’s a great, laid back atmosphere and the staff here are friendly.

“I’ve been working on my CV, discussing the skills and qualities I have to show employers and building on those. I would definitely encourage other young people to check out what’s on offer here because you will really learn a lot and the experience will help boost your confidence.”

The Government envisages that traineeships will become embedded as part of the business strategies for recruitment. Experience shows that by offering traineeship opportunities, young people have a better understanding of the type of roles they are applying for and employees are more confident in their choice of apprentice or employee.

All training costs for traineeships are met by the Government rather than the employer. If employers then decide to take on their trainee as an apprentice, the council’s Lifelong Learning and Skills team support both the employer and apprentice through the process.

More than 30 Sheffield businesses have already pledged their support for the traineeship programme with more encouraged to take part and offer a young person the opportunities and experience they need to kick start their careers.

The Works for Me programme developed traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities with external employers as well as the council.

Craig Watts, a housing coordinator at Sheffield City Council, recently employed four trainees. He said: “We have a captive audience with trainees and because they don’t get paid, we know they are interested in being at work and passionate about what they are learning. The incentive is the skills they can glean from the experience.

“I think it’s been fantastic having trainees around as they bring a new perspective to our working lives, new ideas and enthusiasm. It’s also surprised me how confident some of the young people I’ve worked with can be. It’s been really rewarding seeing them develop their skills and I would recommend other employers give it a try too.”