University offers work placements to students with learning difficulties
By Sarah Wood
Two students, who both have learning difficulties, have taken up placements at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) as part of their college course to help them get into paid work.
The pair, who are both from Cirencester, are students on South Gloucestershire and Stroud College's (SGS) Supported Internship course and, as part of their course, have been working with the catering and estates and maintenance teams at the university's Cirencester campus since November.
James Godwin, facilities manager at the RAU, said: "Working with these students has been great. They are both very willing and keen to learn and have worked really hard. Working with them both has been a really positive experience, not just for them but for all of us too.
"The teams here have really enjoyed having them here and teaching them things. We've already started speaking to SGS about placements starting this autumn and we hope we will be able to offer placements for their students every year."
Students on SGS's Supported Internship scheme are aged between 18 and 25. The scheme provides a structured study programme to young people with mild learning difficulties or disabilities who would like to move into employment. Alongside studying in the classroom, the students, who also have an Education, Health and Care Plan in place, work up to 12 hours a week during their placement.
Lauren Knight, Supported Internship coordinator at SGS College, said: "This course helps to prepare these students for the world of work and supports them to develop the different skills that will be useful for them when they apply for jobs.
"They all really want to learn and want to get jobs, but they just need a little help to get there. Working externally is a great character-building experience for them.
"Alongside the work placements, we teach them how to find and apply for jobs, including skills like how to write their CV and a covering letter. We take them to the Job Centre and explain how it all works and teach them how to deal with interviews, as well as lots of other skills which will make them more employable."
Student Shaun Nelmes, 19, who has been working with the RAU's estates and maintenance team, said: "Working at the Royal Agricultural University is great. Since I started here, I've done so many different things and I am much more confident working with tools now.
"The team I work with are really nice and encourage me to have a go at everything, even things I didn't think I could do.
"Being on this placement has really helped me see what working life is like and gain the skills I will need to get a job. Working here has been really good fun - I really enjoy coming to work!"
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