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Mike Sinnett Stocksbridge r2

Enterprise Adviser Mike Sinnett is keen to use his experience and skills to help prepare young people for the world of work. Mike, who has been matched with Stocksbridge High School, has recently retired from 30 years working in learning and development for HSBC and is now volunteering as a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Professional Advisor offering support and advice to both Sheffield Universities and The Sheffield College.

Stocksbridge High School already does quite a lot of work around employability, including a well-established Enterprise Club that has generated numerous BiG Challenge winners, including the 2016 winners ‘On Fire’. The school also does Dress to Impress Mock Interview days and also participates in the Cutlers Made in Sheffield programme.

As an Enterprise Adviser, Mike Sinnett is planning to focus on developing a mentoring programme that will pair up students with employers from the industries they are interested in.

Mike said; ‘I have devoted my career to helping other people achieve their potential. That's what gives me the greatest satisfaction, and I see this continuing through the Enterprise Adviser programme. As a retired businessman, it keeps me active and involved with the ever-changing world of work. Stocksbridge High School already do a lot of excellent work in helping their students develop the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in their careers. To complement this, they wish to develop two mentoring schemes: one for some of their high-ability students and the other for some of their Pupil Premium students. I have many years of experience in designing and delivering mentoring schemes in business. I am currently a mentor for a number of CIPD students and members. I feel that this experience will help me to develop two effective mentoring schemes at the school.’

Claire Jackson, Assistant Head at Stocksbridge High School, said; ‘The young people at Stocksbridge High School have high aspirations but they don’t always know how to reach their goals. Working with Mike to develop a mentoring programme and open doors to employers, we can help them to understand the different academic qualifications and personal skills they will need to get there.’

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On Thursday 26th May Enterprise Advisers and Schools and Colleges were invited to attend the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Adviser Celebration and Networking Event, an opportunity for those that have engaged in the programme so far to celebrate the region achieving over 50 confirmed matches, more than half way to the regional goal.

Mike Garnock-Jones, chair of the SCR Enterprise Adviser Network steering group, opened the event thanking and congratulating all those involved with the programme. He continued to reiterate the strong links the network is making across a wide range of growth sectors including; construction, finance, healthcare, higher education and the creative industries.

During the event guests heard from Karleen Dowden,Regional Coordinator for the Careers and Enterprise Company who are the national coordinators of the Enterprise Adviser Network scheme, she said: ‘It’s brilliant to see the network taking shape in Sheffield and the progress it’s making. The Enterprise Coordinators here are doing a fabulous job and I’m thoroughly confident the Sheffield City Region will reach its target!’

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Ryan Gibson, who is pioneering the Gatsby Benchmarks for careers education, also spoke at the event. He outlined the importance of careers focused education and showcased the eight benchmarks to judge the success of careers education. About the event Ryan said: ‘The Enterprise Adviser network is a vital element of helping schools to achieve at least two or potentially three of the Gatsby Benchmarks. Employer engagement is such an important aspect of careers education and these employers offer a fresh pair of eyes to the issues schools face, and new ways to address barriers. It’s really useful to see the network grow and the focus of these partnerships working towards a common goal and also to hear the debates and discussion going on.’

After the formal presentations had ended, guests were asked to introduce themselves to the person next to them as a networking exercise, this carried on as employers and schools introduced themselves to more and more individuals they hadn’t met before.‘

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Events like these are a great opportunity to see the interest and meet the wider network, every person her s working to making a difference and it’s great to see this in the bigger picture.’ Charlotte Scothern, Patchwork Pig

‘Today’s been a great benefit in many ways, meeting new people and seeing those engaged with the programme. I’m new to the programme and the more I hear and network the more I learn, we can all learn from each other. Just today I’ve heard about a new mentoring scheme that would be great for my matched school.’ Mike Sinnett, People Development Specialist.

‘It’s been a very valuable experience being here today, hearing about the other things going on, the labour market and the sector information that will soon be available is really useful.’ Joanne Burke, St Puis X School.

James at Dinn

Library Team Leaders Gina White and Erica Gillott are growing opportunities to provide SEN students with work placement opportunities following the success of a partnership with Hilltop Special School.

Special student James (pictured at work, and with Gina, Erica and Alison Lawrie from the library), has been supported to become part of the team at Dinnington after his school, Hilltop School, worked with the team to develop a supported work placement.

Now, following the success of the placement, the library team are growing opportunities in other library sites for students with special needs.

Alison Lawrie, Library and Customers Services Officer, said: “It really has been a very rewarding experience. I remember how shy James was when he first started working here. He is a different person now, he is involved, chatting and very happy. Seeing that transformation has been brilliant for me and other staff.”

Alison has been supported by Hilltop school to create and develop a work placement experience that is good for James and for the library. Staff from the school helped identify tasks that James can complete, or which can be broken down, and help identify and solve potential problems. His duties include sorting books, inputting data, creating displays and keeping the library tidy and clean.

Alison said: “We work together to help James identify what he would like to do next, so as he becomes more confident part of his duties are more customer facing, for example helping people use the self-service library machines. This builds his communication and skills and helps him develop even more, as well as being a valuable extra pair of hands for us.”

Now Gina White and Erica Gillott, Team Leaders for Community Libraries and Customers Services Centres, have launched another placement at another site and are offering one at Aston library too.

Erica said: “It has been a really good experience with James at Dinnington - it’s important workplace experience for him, and very rewarding for staff and the team. It’s given us the confidence to do more. Two things have made a difference – having that support from school to make the placement run smoothly, and Alison’s work with James in the library.”

Gina said: “It has been so successful we have started to roll it out and look at how we can make this part of what we do. We have been reviewing our policies to embed these sorts of opportunities for students and young people with SEN. It’s a model that can be grown, and we should be looking at how to provide more access to work and these sort of opportunities for all types of students.”

James’ school has recently joined the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Advisers Programme and has been matched with Mike Smith, from the Lieutenancy Office. They have identified that providing more, sustainable placements for students is a key need. Five Special Schools have joined the programme, all identifying the same issue. Enterprise Advisers working with these schools are sharing contacts and ideas and developing an ‘SEN Dream Team’ to help make a difference.

Hilltop School Co-Head Teacher Rob Mulvey said: “The experience of James and staff at Dinnington library show that work placements for special students can be a win-win for everyone. Staff at Hilltop work incredibly hard to source and support high quality work placements. Our work experience coordinator Jayne Spalding work with every placement provider to make sure that they feel confident and happy to provide and have a good experience. We just need more people like Gina and Erica who are willing to get involved, and more people like Alison who will take on that supervision role on the ground. We are keen that our work with Mike and the Enterprise Adviser Network draws attention to this really important issue. I hope hearing how well James’ placement is going will give other employers and businesses the confidence to see it as an opportunity to provide such experiences to SEN students.”

James desk

Student James had a call to action for employers about work placements for SEN students, he said: “I learn new skills and enjoy it. People should ring the school and offer their help so more students can come to work.”

Catherine Brentnall, Enterprise Coordinator for Rotherham, said: “With five special schools now signed up to the Enterprise Advisers programme in the town, this issue, about the amount and sustainability of work placements, is coming up again and again. The employment rates of young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are much lower than other groups, but the work of Hilltop School, the experience of Alison and James, and the approach that Gina and Erica are taking shows that educators and employers can work together to make a difference.”

On Wednesday 4th May, Enterprise Advisers from across Sheffield met for the first Sheffield training session. The morning breakfast meeting was an opportunity for Enterprise Advisers at varying stages of the matching process to come together meet one another, discuss and reflect on their experiences so far, and learn more about the programme and network.

The event opened with an introduction from the Chair of the Steering Group for the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Adviser Network, Mike Garnock-Jones, who welcomed ten out of fourteen confirmed Advisers to the morning session and stressed the importance of coming together to discuss what is working and what can be improved.

Cheryl Plant, Enterprise Coordinator for Sheffield, said, “What we’re starting here today is an enterprise adviser family, that will offer support to one another and you can call upon for assistance.”

 The Advisers were then asked to look at three different examples of schools’ employer engagement strategies and discuss what they would do to help with the strategic development of the plans. Each Adviser offered different thoughts on the process with suggestions including: Meet with the students and see what they are looking for; examine the locality and the individual needs of the school; assess the value of the relationships schools already have with local employers and see where these could be taken; encourage schools to form more than just one connection with a business, and many more.

Donna Howard, from Kier and Enterprise Adviser for Hinde House School, her previous school, said, “I’m interested in getting involved with the students as I have a background working with young people in Sport. I’m passionate about helping young people and that’s part of why I became an Enterprise Adviser.”

Barry Senior, a recently retired Management Consultant who has also been matched with his former school, High Storrs, said, “As an Enterprise Adviser I want to reinforce the message that there are more options out there than university; real skills and apprenticeships are just as valuable in the world of work!”

The event closed with, one of Sheffield’s first Enterprise Advisers, Brian O’Sullivan from Denton Nichols, giving the group an overview of his experience so far: “I’ve met twice with Yewlands Technology College; they’ve been very engaged with the entire process. It’s great to be given the opportunity to make a difference in a school.  It’s been really enjoyable, and what I was hoping for. I’m very excited about the future!”

“Our first network event was a great success. It’s fantastic to meet employers who are so keen to support schools and colleges” said Mike Garnock-Jones.

Training events like this will continue to happen across the region on a local and regional basis. There are also opportunities to attend national training events, for more information please contact your local Enterprise Coordinator. 

ALcontrol TRC 2Photo attached (left to right) Dr Williams, Julia Bloomer, Wendy Robson and Cerise Walters.

Colleagues from Thomas Rotherham College have met their Enterprise Adviser Julia Bloomer, Group Customer Services Director from ALcontrol, the food and water testing laboratory.

Principal Dr Richard Williams, Wendy Robson, Senior Student Support Manager and Cerise Walters, Manager for Careers and Employer Engagement, identified they wanted to make more links with STEM businesses through the Enterprise Advisers Programme.

Dr Williams said: “We are looking forward to working with Julia to build on what we already have in place, and to inspire our students about the range of businesses and roles available across Rotherham and the Sheffield City Region.”

Julia Bloomer was keen to become an Enterprise Adviser to get the message out about STEM opportunities. She said: “ALcontrol is an example of a great STEM business that young people probably don’t know much about. All our staff get a grounding in the practical lab work, so they understand our core business, but then follow different routes, from technicians to microbiologists, to logistics and marketing or account managers. Within this one company, there are many roles and sectors represented. I’m keen that young people understand what lies behind a business, and what it takes to get started and excel. Many STEM businesses have vacancies they find hard to fill, so for people with the right aptitudes and attitudes, there are good opportunities.”

The Sheffield College has now been matched with an Enterprise Adviser from one of the biggest companies in the construction industry; Lee Tinkler is Project Director – North at Carillion, a global facilities management and construction services company.

Lee recently met with key contacts at The Sheffield College, Michelle MacDonald, Employer Engagement Manager, Iain McKinney, Vice Principal, and Suzanne Wainwright, Head of Learning, Sustainable Construction, to discuss the beginning of the Enterprise Adviser Network relationship.

As an Enterprise Adviser Lee is planning to take part in the curriculum review process to ensure progression pathways are correctly highlighted and hopes to start an employer forum where employers can discuss what they really want from young people. Carillion will also be offering site visits and work placements in various areas across the business, as well as sending some of their own apprentices to study at the college next year.

Talking about his recent appointment, Lee said; "Carillion is currently undertaking three major civil engineering projects in this area, the college will provide further educational training to our technical apprentices working on those projects.  Through the Enterprise Adviser Network, we are working to build more positive links, helping to take a fresh look at employment and education and supporting the college to develop the types of individuals that industry is looking for in the future.”

Suzanne Wainwright said; “The Enterprise Adviser Network is all about aspirations and motivation.  Hearing first hand from companies about what they look for in new employees and that they are pledging opportunities can be life changing for some of our young people.” 

Careers Enterprise Co 150

Visit The Careers & Enterprise Company website for information about the national programme


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