Providing bespoke work placements to enhance career prospects

Skills and educational services unite to offer workplace opportunities to ESOL students

Credit: Samwarit Mihteteab

By Alice Ekwalla, Embrace UK

This June, Embrace UK, The College of Haringey, Enfield and Tottenham (CONEL), Empower Skills Service and other local partners will provide bespoke work placements for around 80 English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students from CONEL, aged 16–19.

These students would often find it more challenging to find opportunities to work or study in their chosen field of choice, but through the bespoke work placements they will be offered short-term work opportunities with employers that are community orientated, and who are committed to investing in the youth.

Our tailored programme provides practical life-enhancing skills in financial management and budgeting, confidence building, time management, communication and listening skills, which employers require. The students will learn skills specific to their subject, industry of choice and future aspirations.

Since 2015, government austerity has meant deprived communities in Haringey have experienced severe cuts in ESOL support.

English language skills remain a key pre-employment training need for many individuals, including refugees and migrants. Local data indicates that households in Haringey have high levels of unemployment (19%) compared to the London average of 15%.

A number of recent initiatives have reinforced the government’s commitment to removing low levels of English as a barrier to getting a job. Our bespoke work placements enable the ESOL students to practice their existing skills as they get to know how people work together in the UK, how things get done, and how work may differ from school or college here, compared to their country of origin.

Working, whether paid or unpaid is good for our health and well-being. It contributes to our happiness, and helps us to build confidence and self-esteem.

The bespoke work placement can assist and support the diverse multicultural population of Tottenham, who have historically had some of the highest levels of unemployment and poverty, to embrace the change that is coming with local regeneration. The ESOL students can now get a foot in the door of the growing network of new businesses taking root in the local area.

It is important for students to feel welcomed and supported by the mentoring processes in order to foster a sense of belonging; this is achieved by close, community collaboration between the programme providers.

It is our responsibility to support our young people – having an impact in their development. Employers will also benefit from this project because the morale of their existing team will be boosted, as employees develop their own supervisory skills when looking after the student, feeling valued in the workplace, as they meet their community wealth and cohesion obligations.

Local organisations can play an important part in the journeys of our ESOL students, and we look forward to hearing from potential employers in Tottenham, Enfield, Hackney and other areas in London.

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