Adam Ellwood, Gelder Group
I’m the Apprenticeship Development Manager at the Gelder Group. I joined the organisation after graduating with a degree in Criminology after a successful 4month volunteer placement. As a student I volunteered with Lincolnshire Youth Offender team, and NACRO it was at this point that realised how much of an impact connecting with someone, mentoring them, can have on performance. That’s a lesson I learned early on in my career and I think that being a Workplace Learning Advocate is another way of using what I’ve learned to support people into life long learning.
The Gelder Group believes in helping people from all backgrounds, one particular project I manage is the ‘Gelder Virtual School.’ We work with young adults who have been removed from mainstream education for a variety of different reasons and educate them in a more suitable environment, mostly one on one. The results are fantastic – we have a very high attendance rate and people come out with a recognised qualification.
However, when recruiting last year for Gelder apprentices, I was very clear to see that many young adults don’t have the employability skills that we want based on their CV and application forms. To help with this I designed a 1-day training course titled: ‘Preparation for Work Readiness’. This chargeable course is to inform school children what the Gelder Group and other employers or even colleges looks for when recruiting / enrolling. The course covers CV’s, covering letters, applications forms, social media and the interview process.
This course has been a monumental success having already taught over 280 children in Lincolnshire within 5 different schools / academies, and future courses booked with a further 4 academies / repeat schools based on the success. Along the way the Lincolnshire Echo printed a lead story in their education section about the course and how valuable it is to all young adults. My aim with the course is to help young people think about what they need to do to be work ready and get that important first job or progress into further education.
Once people get a job at Gelder Group it’s really important that they feel part of the workplace community as well as continuing to develop. The organisation really believes in promoting from within and wants people to take the chances we can provide for them to up-skill and achieve their potential. The aim is for all employees to reach NVQ Level 2. I recently trained to become a Workplace Learning Advocate as part of my own personal development but also to act as a reference point for employees wanting to find out more about the opportunities the company offers. The Workplace Learning Advocates scheme has given me the skills to publicise what is on offer to people.
We launched the new social club with a BBQ and cricket match. We also invited all staff to complete a questionnaire to find out exactly what type of activities the social club could organise as well as drumming up new members for the committee. This has been a great way of making people to feel that they are part of the Gelder community. It’s also been a great way to connect with people and give them the confidence to try something different. For some that means picking up a cricket bat for the first time, for others it means taking a course to help them get that promotion within the business.
As for me, the WLA training has given me confidence to speak out about what I know. I recently met Rt Hon David Miliband and spoke at the Unionlearn event ‘Building work communities’, something I could hardly have imagined doing when I’d just graduated and was just starting my journey into work.