Plymouth Benefit Delivery Centre has piloted a scheme called 'Empower' which is designed to develop AOs looking to build on the competencies needed for promotion. Paul was part of a team who chose to take on an Engaging Our Schools project, as part of the team.
"I was successful in my application and was placed in a group with Matthew Epps, Karen Galliers, and Rob Zingler; our mentor was Leanne Wilkins, and our project was Engaging our Schools.
Our initial plan was to invite a group of year 10 students into our office to attend a 2-hour session once a week for 6 weeks. However, after discussing our activity plans with our mentor we decided to support sixth form students instead as they are at a point where work experience is more relevant to them and it would help them in considering their future career choices.
We also decided that instead of 2-hour sessions over 6 weeks, a week long programme would give the students a taste of a real working week, giving them a insight into working life as well as allowing us more time to focus on specific areas with them.
We designed a 5-day itinerary that included writing CVs, problem solving and team-building activities. We gave the students some ‘job’ application forms and interviewed them. The students also visited the Jobcentre and had a look at the Universal Job Match system.
Whilst we were all very nervous at the start of the week, we soon gained confidence, and all the hard work and preparation paid off as the week ran as smoothly as possible. The project was a success for both the students and our team, and we got some great feedback from the students:
This week has helped me to have more confidence in myself and has taught me skills which will help for the future.
I found the week very interesting and learnt a lot, I enjoyed being in a formal working environment and everything learnt will help me in my future career.
The workshops we did help me gain confidence in myself. I would have liked to have continued this for longer.
For us, we worked as a team, we become more confident and we also learnt, at the planning stage, how to deal with different scenarios that as individuals we would not have known how to address had we not taken part in the
‘Empower’ scheme and the Engaging our Schools project."
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