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A Virtual Work Experience

Monday, 7 December, 2020

Press Release Hospitality & Catering Work Placement

As a responsible business, ENGIE, are committed to supporting young people by offering a range of work experience placements to develop knowledge and employability skills. However, due to the current COVID19 pandemic and face to face contact currently ceased, all planned work placements have been unable to take place, leaving many of our students with no opportunity to gain valuable skills in the workplace.

With virtual delivery quickly becoming the new ‘normal,' a creative and innovative means of delivery had to be identified to continue to support local young people into work experience placements. ENGIE, one of our industry partners, began to look at how work experience could be delivered virtually, whilst remaining meaningful, develop the skills required for employment and address the necessary benchmarks in providing meaningful encounters with employers.

To maximise opportunity and reach they took the ambitious decision to deliver a pilot programme to students at Wakefield College and The Manchester College simultaneously. With strong links already formed with us and The Manchester College, we were keen to support the pilot to ensure our students benefited from this unique, innovative experience.

“ENGIE really value the relationship they have locally with Wakefield College and continue to take a collaborative approach to working with them to offer opportunity to their students.  The Virtual Work Experience is a great example of how partnership working can result in the delivery of creative, innovative programmes to enhance student learning.” Sarah Hopkinson, Social Value Manager (Contracts), ENGIE

ENGIE worked closely with catering delivery partner in Wakefield, ISS, to put together a robust programme for students studying hospitality and catering. Although unable to offer students a ‘hands on’ experience, the programme aimed to give students knowledge of a catering provision within an educational setting.

Thirteen students completed this weeklong virtual work experience programme and were presented with a certificate from Engie to acknowledge their successful completion of this work placement. All sessions were delivered via TEAMS and students all had a personal work log which they completed daily. Feedback on performance and progress by ENGIE was also given daily to maximise personal development and positive outcomes of the experience.

A Virtual Across the week students were exposed to a range of sessions, experiences and independent working to prepare them for the world of work. Students had meaningful encounters with positive role models each day to ask questions and gain knowledge from their experiences in the industry. Participants took part in job role training and worked independently on catering work based tasks such as the production of a menu for young children, considering Government food guidelines, costings, allergies and educational budgets, completing them to set deadlines to improve time management skills.

To maximise diversity of support through the one-week work experience, employability sessions were also incorporated into the programme. Candidates were given the opportunity to improve their CV, develop their interview skills and overall confidence in the recruitment process. This element of the programme culminated in a mock interview with colleagues from ENGIE.

Despite being the first virtual work experience programme, students were incredibly engaged and exceeded expectations throughout the week with high quality work being produced and submitted prior to set deadlines.

Challenges were faced when delivering the sessions due to different levels of IT capabilities across students, with some students requiring extra level support which was not feasible virtually. ENGIE worked closely with us to overcome challenges, with students requiring additional support being allocated a support worker within college for the weeklong placement.

At the end of the programme students were asked to rate ENGIE on the skills they had helped them to develop during their placement. Validation of the success of the programme was evidenced by 100% of participants stating that they would recommend the ENGIE Virtual Work Experience to their peers!

 “Our students were really positive about the experience and found the mock interview and CV help really useful. They thought it was a really good insight and also found it challenging, two of the students I particular stressed how much it had helped them. A couple of students who didn’t take part were also asking if there would be another opportunity so clearly word got around that it was good! From my point of view, the organisation was fantastic, I can’t thank ENGIE enough. Not just during the placement but in the lead up to it and at the very end. The quick turnaround on sending logbooks and feedback through was brilliant. It has really helped us and has been of real benefit during what is a very difficult time. I just want to say a really big thank you to Engie for what was a well-executed and really beneficial work experience week.” Hayley Shillito—Head of Student Experience & Engagement

A full review of the programme has been undertaken and further Virtual Work Experience placements have been devised in a range of disciplines which we have confirmed our students will be applying for these opportunities.

If you can offer a work placement to our students email workplacements@wakefield.ac.uk

 

Ends

CONTACT: For more information email info@wakefield.ac.uk, or telephone 01924 789789.
DATE: 7 December, 2020

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