From education to employment

Creating choices, developing skills and helping communities

Kerry Boffey, CEO of Adult Learning Improvement Network (ALIN)

The choice of subjects available within education and training for young people today have never been greater, with so many options seemingly on offer. However, for some young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and circumstances, or for those facing additional personal and social barriers, their choices can become quite limited. A history of long-term family unemployment, a chaotic home life, poor general health and financial worries can all add to the mental pressure and have a severe negative impact upon a young person’s aspirations and future well-being.

Breaking this often-repetitive cycle, creating choices and chances that transform young peoples lives has never been more critical for those from less than privileged or indeed disadvantaged backgrounds.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Adult Learning Improvement Network (ALIN) have been a delivery partner for the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to improve the quality of study programmes delivered by the Post 16 education and training sector.

During this time, ALIN have worked with many truly amazing training providers, colleges, specialist colleges and local authorities who through their courses, programmes and support to young people have given new skills, hope and ambition that have allowed individuals to fulfil their potential and become highly valued members of the workforce and their communities.

Last week has been no exception and ALIN have been working with PM Training who is a vibrant social enterprise training provider in Stoke-on-Trent, who are celebrating their tenth anniversary since merging with Aspire Housing.

PM Training offers a unique work preparation programme called Homeworks that consists of 40 (yes 40!) teams of young people supported by highly experienced, qualified and inspirational supervisors providing work preparation and social skills development through the delivery of commercially contracted works across the North Staffordshire area. Around 5,000 households are supported each year and the work is specifically focussed on helping elderly, disabled, single parents or others in need of assistance.

In total, over 7,000 young people will have benefitted from Homeworks since its inception which has helped them gain valuable work experience while also providing enormous benefit to the community.

PM Training has gained recognition for their work and in conjunction with Aspire are proud to have been awarded the status of ‘Social mobility champion’, ‘Queen’s Award winner’ and ranked 18th in the national social mobility index – largely due to the outstanding positive progression of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds into employment or further training.

The open-door recruitment policy that PM Training promotes, welcomes all young people regardless of their previous educational attainment and background. The majority of learners are 16 -18 years old, and in many cases have not had positive experiences during their school years. Over two-thirds of learners have maths and English prior attainment below level 1, and over 70% come from areas within the 25% most deprived wards nationally.

Despite this, 72% of the learners progress to positive destinations at the end of their training with the majority advancing into apprenticeships and/or full employment.

The original founder of PM training had a clear ethos for the business that was to “Progress our young people into jobs and PM Training will always have a future’ and while many additional targets have been introduced, the clear focus on progressing learners into jobs has always remained.

PM Training’s involvement in the ETF project has included working with the ALIN team to further develop a range of new teaching and learning resources that help capture the impact upon a young person’s development with a wide range of employability skills.

“We heard about the support programme from ETF and ALIN through AELP. This really appealed to us as we are always seeking opportunities to improve our provision and our achievement rates.

“A high number of young people joining PM Training have maths and English entry points below level one. The support we have received from ALIN has been fantastic enabling us to develop new ways to embed learning and to really motivate our learners. 

“ALIN staff have fostered excellent working relations with our staff and were quick to gain a clear understanding of our provision. Together we identified the key areas to improve and ALIN have helped provide the required structure and timeframe to deliver this.” Daniel Canavan, Director of Operations PM Training

Other innovative resources that training providers are helping to develop with ALIN include guidance, advice and hints as to linking maths and English skills to the needs of specific occupations such as the technical flyers samples here: Hospitality Team member and Carpentry. There are now 50 in total.

The ALIN team of current and former Ofsted inspectors with extensive knowledge and experience across the post 16 education and training sector, provide specialist support to further develop learning resources and also provide focused staff development to help organisations promote extensive employability skill and motivate their learners to achieve their full potential.

The latest resources currently being developed by the ALIN team focus on promoting the benefits of social action and highlight the added value this can bring for both learners and the community.

PM Training, like many other providers across the country, make a significant contribution to creating inspirational opportunities for their young people. The most recent Ofsted inspection of PM Training that took place in March 2018, was particularly praiseworthy of the value of the work undertaken by the company and its positive impact upon the lives of local young people.

“Senior leaders and governors have created a positive culture that supports some of the most disadvantaged learners in their community to access education and employment, promoting social mobility.

“Managers have designed programmes that help learners develop the personal and social skills necessary for them to overcome, in many cases, significant and complex barriers to learning.”

External recognition and praise is always particularly satisfying for any training provider but perhaps more important is the genuine impact upon the learner.

As one young person said to me on my recent visit to PM Training “they care about you here and want to make sure you have a future”.

That comment goes to the heart of the work undertaken by PM Training and explains why they have been an excellent contributor to the ETF project.

Kerry Boffey, CEO of Adult Learning Improvement Network (ALIN)

Copyright © 2018 FE News

The ETF support project delivered by ALIN is available to all ESFA funded providers of study programmes for 16 -19-year olds. Please email ALIN if you would like to know more about the project, or feel your organisation could benefit from a bespoke support programme.

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