From education to employment

FE News continues its look at the NTA college finalists

The RNIB College at Loughborough has been short-listed for a National Training Award for its Work Transition programme. The residential college caters for people with disabilities aged 16-65 and the programme aims to support those looking for employment

“Many, but not all of our learners have a sight problem” said Employment Placement Executive Alicia Wisehall. “People also join us with chronic illness, hearing loss, learning difficulties, physical mobility difficulties, mental health issues or mild to moderate autism. Many have one or more difficulty or disability.

“But all have unique strengths and personalities and our programmes are designed to fit flexibly around individual needs.”

The Work Transition programme was established four years ago to encourage learners to find their own work placements and develop a relationship with employers themselves with the college taking a supportive role. A work experience diary was introduced for learners to reflect on their work placement and skills.

RNIB research shows that only 25 per cent of blind and partially-sighted adults of working age are in employment. Before the Work Transition programme started, 36 per cent of adult learners at Loughborough moved on to employment, but the college was determined to do better.

“We trained learners how to explain to employers the adjustments and adaptations they would need at work,” explained Alicia Wisehall. “In 2006 there were 23 learners on the programme of differing ages, abilities and backgrounds, of whom 56 per cent moved on to employment or mainstream education.

“We offer learners a wider range of employer engagement activities, including panels at mock interviews and more work placements. We have extended transition planning to providing advice, guidance and support to all learners to 12 months after leaving. We also encourage learners, where possible, to take responsibility for their own learning.”

In 2006, the college received written praise from OFSTED for the Work Transition provision and awarded it a Commendation of Good Practice for supporting learners into employment.

29 learners left the college in 2006 and all were linked in with a job broker prior to leaving and are undergoing advice and guidance which will continue for the next 12 months, or until they find suitable employment.

Ms Wisehall said: “Through working closely with employers like Leicestershire Constabulary, we are able to offer a wider curriculum, meeting the needs of learners. Employers also benefit, as they are more aware of our client group which helps when recruiting. Something that an employer may have found confusing before becomes more routine and natural in their recruitment process.”

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