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Ace@Optalis Class of 2016/17

Message from Donna Morgans, Supported Employment Service Manager


"I’m extremely proud of this year’s Ace@Optalis students; throughout this year we have seen our students' confidence increase, their belief in their abilities grow and their transition from college into work has truly been inspirational. 

"Our students received their certificate from Wokingham Borough Mayor, Cllr Rob Stanton; this year we had speeches from Michelle Parks, Life Skills Director of Reading College and Mr. Roger Prew; once of our students fathers ( Jess Prew) talking about the course from a family perspective.

"Our students have secured paid employment at Ikea, South Hill Park, Tesco, ASD Family Help, Westmead Day Services, Forest and Maiden Erlegh Schools

"Supported Employment Service continues to provide a first class service and each and everyone one on the team works tirelessly to enable each student to reach their employment goals and aspirations!"

Ace@Optalis is top of the class!

Reading College students are celebrating their graduation from a job-focused course run by the Wokingham-based Optalis Supported Employment Service. The course Ace@Optalis provides specialist training, coaching and support to enable students to make the transition from college into a work environment.

The course involves students attending Trinity Court at Optalis and participating in group training sessions, weekly 1-1 meetings with a job coach, goal setting, vocational profiling, managing stress, interview practice, travel training, work experience and paid work in partnership with local businesses and organisations such as the Forest School Wokingham, Sainsbury’s in Newbury, Poundland in Reading, MITIE Basingstoke, Rivermead leisure centre, Berkshire Rooms in Wokingham.  

Sylvie De Groote at the Forest School said: “Being able to offer employment to the students has been very rewarding. We have a very good relationship with Optalis, Donna Morgans has been brilliant and supported us every step of the way, so have the Employment Coaches, they are always at the end of the phone or email – it’s been great!”

Don James (Berkshire Rooms) said, “I found my experience working with Optalis to be very rewarding and also very beneficial to my company.”

Shantelle Black, one of the SES graduate students who now works at the Forest School said, “I love my new job; it’s busy but the staff are lovely and I feel like I am making a real contribution.”

The students were presented with graduation certificates by Wokingham Council’s Mayor, Cllr Bob Pitts at the Optalis office at Trinity Court on 13 June. The award ceremony was packed with students, parents, employers and colleagues who enjoyed a specially-baked cake and tea following the certificate presentations.

More information about the service available from Donna Morgans, Supported Employment Service manager on (0118) 989 0500, or email: donna.morgans@optalis.org  

Ace@Optalis - a groundbreaking college course that supports students into work

Ace@Optalis is a groundbreaking supported employment course designed and delivered by Optalis to provide a smooth transition from college into employment for students who have been studying work-related courses at Reading College.

The course involves students attending the Optalis head office and participating in group training sessions, weekly 1-1 meetings with a job coach, goal setting, body language, managing stress, interview practice, travel training, work experience and paid work in partnership with local businesses and organisations such as the Forest School, Become Digital, Sue Ryder, The Computer Doctor and Wokingham Library.

Following their successful completion of work experience the students receive offers of paid work in roles such as trainee website administrator and coffee shop assistant.

One of the local organisations involved in the scheme is Become Digital Ltd, based in Reading who are working with Martin, one of the Optalis students. Tom Chant, Director of Become Digital Ltd said, “Working with Martin for the past few months has allowed us to get to know one another ahead of taking on a project together. It’s been really useful to watch how he works under the support of SES, to prepare us for working more closely over the coming months. SES have been a constant help in supporting both the student and myself. The service arranged our first meeting with the student, introduced us and helped everyone to settle into the work.”

The Forest School in Wokingham also provided employment for graduates from the course, firstly to manage traffic for the new 6th form block and latterly to work in the new coffee shop. “We are working with Bill Crawford and Sylvie de Groote at the school and it’s a partnership that continues to produce great benefits for all participants,” says Donna Morgans, SES Service Manager.

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