Setting up job seekers for success
11 February 2022
Optalis Supported Employment Service's new venture is seeing positive results, in its first few months of operations. The new vocational training programme, called Ability Cleaning, is a mini social enterprise that supports people with a range of disabilities and support needs to learn and develop workplace skills. The programme launched in the summer of ‘21 and is already proving to be beneficial for local job seekers, who were otherwise finding it difficult to secure paid work.
Sean joined the Ability Cleaning team in the summer, as one of 12 workers. His main duties included dusting, vacuuming, desk cleaning and restroom sanitation. Sean explains
“The main thing that Ability Cleaning was really helpful for me was just getting something really strong on my CV. And now, thankfully, I've got a new job lined up, as a care assistant at a private care home.”
Inna Selivan, Team Lead at the Supported Employment Service, said “We work with people who need to develop skills to move into the job market, helping them gain the abilities and knowledge needed to achieve employment that meets the needs of our local employers. We know that the national employment rates for people with learning disabilities is just 5.1%. Our team in Wokingham have managed to achieve 19.3% for local people. This project has been set up to address some of the barriers people face and help us improve this local picture even more. We give people the opportunity to learn on the job and practice and retain skills, develop a reference and prove to potential employers that they can be a good fit.”
Ben, who now works at a local dentist as a decontamination assistant, adds
“I chose it because it seemed like a good reason to get out of the house, earn a bit of cash, learn a new skill and I knew I would meet some new people. Because I learned new skills it was a good stepping stone. It’s a nice environment and they have good levels of support."
The Ability Cleaning team work Monday to Friday. Earning a wage, while they are seeking permanent employment. Donna Morgans – Head of SES, explains. All our team at Ability Cleaning earn a real wage, while they develop the skills to move on towards their employment goals and aspirations. Everyone working here learns what is it like in the world of work. Learning all aspects of employment. Roles, responsibilities and gaining confidence in their own abilities. The team members really enjoy the challenge and all of them have developed. Sean and Ben's success has shown us that thinking differently about supporting people into paid employment can bring real results." Alongside the hands-on work experience, the Supported Employment Team support the job seekers to build and develop themselves, using any e-learning, workbooks, and 1:1 job coaching. Sean adds, “My Work Employment Coach helped me with my CV, formatting it and making sure it looks good, so when employers look at the CV it looks professional.”
“It feels great to have a new job lined up, being able to move up, obviously, getting paid more money is helpful. Having the ability to climb the ladder and progress further in life. Ability Cleaning is obviously just an amazing springboard to get you started with this stuff. It's incredible.”
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