Leeds City College leading the way to get more SEND students into employment
A college in Leeds has won funding to be part of a cohort that aims to get people with special needs and disabilities into meaningful employment.
Luminate Education Group, which consists of Leeds City College, Keighley College and Harrogate College has been awarded funding by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to help improve the prospects of the lives of people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The group is the only education institution in the Yorkshire and Humber region to win the bid and has been appointed as an ambassador, known as a ‘spoke’, to the Centres for Excellence in SEND, working in partnership with local employers to provide opportunities for students in the heritage sector.
The funding will be used by Luminate Education Group to deliver two events on opportunities and employability of people with SEND and learning difficulties in the heritage sector.
One will be a virtual event and another face to face and it is likely that they will take place in the new year.
Louise Turner, Director of Inclusive Provision and SEND at Leeds City College, said it was an opportunity for firms to ask the questions about employing people with learning difficulties and disabilities "that they daren't ask".
She said that while there had been progress over recent years about getting people with SEND into meaningful and sustainable employment - there was still much more work to be done.
"It has been on the way. We do already have supported internship programmes and we have run that for a few years and the rates that they have progressed has been amazing. Students have got work with the likes of Yorkshire Water, and, where they have excelled in a certain thing they looked at that rather than what they couldn't do.
"One example is we had a student who was phenomenally good at spotting errors and the role was adapted into a full time role checking finances.
"Students have potential in the work place but it can be difficult getting them through the door. We are trying to build upon that and if we can get them through the door employers will see the benefit of that. Whilst it is getting better, there is more work that we can do."
Since June 2019, ETF’s three Centres for Excellence in SEND have been working with the further education sector to provide support to leaders, managers and practitioners who want
to create inclusive workplaces.
Ms Turner added: "It is about looking at things differently and saying 'why not?' Employing someone with learning disabilities also benefits everybody else. These two events for employers are led by the heritage sector and we are using that experience from those employers to work with us and they will talk to other employers about the benefits, how do you do it, what they might be concerned about and what they daren't ask. It is very much employer led.
"Because it is Yorkshire and Humber we will focus on employers within the region and we will encourage them to think about their work place differently, 'how can a person with SEND work and support their organisation?
"If you approach an employer it can be a negative experience. They think what might go wrong or not work but we want to flip that on its head. As an employer and organisation, you represent a cross section of people and there are benefits to the organisation from this."
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