Dunelm, the UK’s leading homewares, is helping to kickstart the careers of Walsall College students through a year-long work placement and personal development opportunity.
Supported Internships are being provided to three students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and an education, health and care (EHC) plan as a way for them to experience the world of work.
Sophie Darby, Ashley Harvey-Jones and Marco Tamburro are each spending two days a week at Dunelm’s Wolverhampton, Cannock and Wolverhampton stores to gain customer service and retail skills. The remainder of their time is spent in college studying English, maths, IT/digital, along with other sessions that will further develop their employability skills.
The students are following in the footsteps of a former supported intern at Dunelm who progressed into employment with the retailer.
Thomas Spittles-Jackson, People Partner at Dunelm said:
“My team and I believe in supported internships and are willing to invest in them because they help us create inclusive workplaces that truly represent our society.
“I first met the supported internship students at the start of the college year so I was able to liaise with them as candidates to help identify how Dunelm could support their job ambitions.
“Sophie, Ashley and Marco are all individuals with great potential. I’m confident this is an investment in emerging talent that will benefit both our business and other local industries long-term.”
This is 20-year-old supported intern Sophie’s first time in the workplace.
“I’m really enjoying the work,” she said. “I’m spending a lot of time liaising with customers. At first, I was a bit nervous about talking to so many different people but I’ve had lots of encouragement. I’ve become friends with the people in my team and think this is a career path I could follow long-term.”
Scott Westwood, Curriculum Delivery Manager for Supported Learning added:
“Supported internships pave the way for students to flourish in a work environment under the guidance of the employer and a college job coach.
“Working closely with Dunelm, we’ve been able to tailor Sophie, Ashley and Marco’s workplace training in a way that matches their needs while drawing on their strengths. We’re excited to see how they progress and hope they will inspire future learners and employers to follow this recruitment path themselves.”