Inspire! sources and manages around 3,000 work experiences each year for young people in Hackney and Camden. Whilst the bulk of these are one or two-week placements for students in Year 10, a growing number support 6th form and college students. These may be again be short placements or, where they underpin vocational studies, can be on an extended basis.
Sixteen year-old Katie Moran from Clapton Girls’ Academy is in her first year of a two-year BTEC National Diploma in Business. As part of her course, she spends every Wednesday at the Shoreditch offices of corporate communications agency, Living Group. Here she is learning how what she studies at school is applied in the workplace, plus she has a chance to explore the marketing/advertising/communications sector and have her first taste of being a working adult.
“I like it here,” she says. “I travel in from Stoke Newington which takes about 40 minutes and once I’m at my desk, Helen tells me what needs doing and then I leave around 4.00 p.m. I like the fact that I spend a day here then focus on my studies the rest of the week.” Helen is Helen Tejedor, Living Group’s Human Resources Manager, who has been overseeing Katie’s placement.
Helen explains: “We originally started working with Inspire! about three years ago, mainly sending staff into schools to talk about their jobs (Inspire!’s Work Week for primary schools) but we’re a small team and it was putting pressure on us so we looked to see what we could do from here and work experience was an obvious one. We’ve hosted around half a dozen students so far for one or two weeks but Katie is the first on a one day a week basis and she should be with us until July. It’s still early days and we’re both still getting to grips with the best way to work to ensure that she has something meaningful to do that is relevant to us but that ties in with what she is learning on her course.”
To date, Katie has had a varied list of jobs to carry out. “I sat in on a meeting, I’ve run a couple of errands to get things they need here and the other day, I filed some invoices which was good as we’ve just started a new module at school on finance and it includes invoices so I know what they are. I was asked to review some websites, rating various things such as what they looked like and how it easy it was to find information.” Living Group produces a regular report on industry websites, so this certainly involved her in a relevant piece of work.
Helen is determined that by the time she leaves, Katie will have discovered what ignites her interest and that some of the work she is given directly relates to her course. “To this end, I’ve asked her to draw me up a list of what the course will cover in the coming months and we’ll see what ties in,” she says.
Given the scope of the BTEC course, Katie is learning a considerable amount simply by being in a work environment – almost without realising what she is taking on board. And given the nature of Living Group’s business, there are lots of learning opportunities to add to her knowledge and develop her own employability skills.
Her teacher at Clapton Girls’ Academy, Hasnan Ahmed-Khan says he hopes the placement will give her confidence, experience and the skills needed to work in a business environment. He is already noticing a difference. “She has become very confident and her ability to work as part of team on a project has been particularly outstanding. She recently created a marketing project for Cadbury in which she used a lot of these communication skills.”