The Ladder for the Black Country is working closely with another organisation to support young people across the area with special educational needs and disabilities and those educated in pupil referral units and alternative provision.
The hope is to encourage employers to adopt an inclusive approach to taking on apprentices and consider giving opportunites to those youngsters and find out what they have to offer.
The Black Country Careers Hub works with 115 schools and colleges across the region and since September last year has also welcomed the region’s special schools and pupil referral units.
To lead on this work, the Black Country Skills Factory, with funding from the Careers and Enterprise Company, has employed a dedicated special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) senior co-ordinator to support schools and students to improve the possibility and probability of paid work, successful transitions to further and higher education, skills development, employer engagement and encounters with the world of work.
The Black Country Skills Factory will work with employers and facilitate SEND and AP community of practice meetings which bring together schools, careers education providers and employers to work towards overcoming common obstacles to career education in these settings.
It will introduce employers to relevant speakers with the goal of enriching their careers and transition programmes as well as sharing resources. Already from these meetings, five sub-groups have been established to echo the views of the schools and how best to support them. This includes social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) and PRU networking sessions, parental support sessions, Black Country skills builder sessions, skills passport creation, a vocational profile creation group and school and college liaison forum to support transitions.
In the short time the SEND and AP community of practice has been set up, the career hubs have provided day-to-day support, tailored to the needs of both schools and colleges including advice on which careers programme providers, activities and resources have been proven to work, shared up-to-date information on the skills local and national employers need and liaised with local employers to coordinate work encounters for their students.
They have also delivered a series of spending sense webinars in conjunction with Metro Bank in Wolverhampton, an access to work webinar for young people, parents, and education staff, created career resources designed with the pupils needs in mind, introduced schools to career providers who can support and develop their career and transition programmes.
The Skills Factory has organised a Virtual Careers Expo with SEND and AP opportunities embedded throughout that goes live on January 14.
It is also providing the opportunity for schools and colleges to access a free virtual six-week work experience programme and a plan to deliver an employer engagement event to encourage more employers to engage with pupils educated in special schools and PRU’s.
A priority for the Black Country Careers Hub has been matching each one of these schools to an enterprise advisor, a volunteer from the ‘World of Work’ who works closely with senior leaders from schools to use their business experience and professional networks to help develop and implement an effective careers strategy that puts opportunities with local employers at the heart of a young person’s education. Since September, 26 of the 35 schools and colleges that have registered, have already been matched to a Volunteer Enterprise Advisor.
More support is welcome and employers are encouraged to reach out to the Black Country Skills Factory to find out more about Enterprise Adviser Network – BlackCountrySkills (blackcountryskillsfactory.co.uk)
If you would like to keep up to date with what the Skills Factory is doing in this area in 2021 and beyond, register for the SEND and AP newsletter at www.blackcountryskillsfactory.co.uk/contact-us/.
By John Corser