Students with learning difficulties and those who struggled at school are successfully entering the world of work thanks to placements arranged at local businesses by Grantham College.
In September 17-year-old Jack Mcmeeking, who is on the autistic spectrum, started work experience one day a week at Café Bilboe on Kings Walk as part of his Skills for Work course at the college.
Jack gained skills last year at the college’s Café.com, with learning development curriculum manager Lisa Smith explaining: “The first year is in house so a bit more of a secure environment for the students to learn those skills but also to build their confidence.”
Café owners Linda and Bryan Bilboe were so happy with Jack that they decided to offer him a paid Saturday job.
Jack said: “It shows other people in the community that people with learning difficulties can do the job, and can listen to instructions.
“Autism is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing and you can do lots of things with it.”
Across from Café Bilboe is fitness and beauty business Bodyrock, where fellow Grantham College student Keegan Larcombe, 18, has also been doing work experience.
Keegan is on the college’s Pathways course, designed for students who were disengaged at school or found formal education a challenge.
“I messed up a bit in school, but I’m doing alright now,” she said.
As well as studying maths and English on her course, Keegan is gaining employability skills including CV writing and interview practice, and like Jack has had the opportunity to do a weekly placement.
Originally Keegan applied for the opportunity at Café Bilboe, but then the chance to work at Bodyrock came up and it has been the making of her, as she said: “Hopefully I’ll get my own salon one day.”
Jack and Keegan are just two examples of Grantham College students who have benefited from the work experience aspect of their courses, and such opportunities are increasing following the EFA’s £1 million investment.
This is enabling the college to open a new area specially catered to students with learning disabilities, and also offer day provision for young people with a learning disability or difficulty.
l Anybody who is interested in the learning development courses can contact Lisa Smith on 01476404394.