Learning disabilities no barrier to job success for Natasha

Date: Thursday July 19, 2018 at 1:26pm

As an Administrative Assistant at the British Forces Resettlement Services (BFRS) - a Social Enterprise created to help the Armed Forces Community with their transition into civilian life – Natasha Hope feels she has found her niche at work.

Natasha (18) from Nuneaton, says she has “moderate learning difficulties”, but since she started working for BFRS as an apprentice two months ago, she has grown in confidence. Natasha loves her new job, which includes inputting data, meeting and interacting with clients at events, and adding new jobs to the BFRS website.

Natasha, went to Oak Wood Schools Academy, Nuneaton, then at 17, took part in the supported internship* scheme at gas distribution company Cadent, (formerly National Grid) where she gained experience in a range of work areas, plus Entry Level 3 qualifications.

Natasha says:​

I love this job, and the people are great! I was nervous to start with – who isn’t when they’re starting a new role – but within a week I realised there’s nothing to be scared of. I hope at the end of my year’s apprenticeship, I will be able to continue working here. I really enjoy my role and get a great sense of satisfaction from doing my job well. More employment opportunities are needed for people with learning disabilities, as well as more awareness in society generally. There is such a wide variety of people with different learning disabilities, we are all individuals with different talents and strengths – just like everyone else.”

Harry Dean, BFRS CEO says:​

“I was impressed with Natasha when she came for interview, she spoke with confidence and has a positive, enthusiastic attitude which is infectious. We are delighted with Natasha’s progress to date and have found her engaging manner and good people skills a very positive contribution – both within the team, and also with clients when we are at our major recruitment events, where we bring together employers and those who are within two years of leaving the armed forces. Natasha also has great computer and data inputting skills, which all together make her a great member of our team.

Harry continues:​

“Employers looking to recruit, shouldn’t be blinded by the fact that someone may have learning difficulties or other disabilities. So many people are given these labels yet they have a wealth of qualities which are extremely valuable. Apart from being a great worker, Natasha has brought a really happy, positive atmosphere to the office.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council says:​​

“The changing economic climate and the uncertainty of a post Brexit world, means it’s more important than ever for our businesses to be more creative and flexible when it comes to recruitment. Nine of our 11 special schools have pupils aged 16 and above, and increasing numbers of these young people are seeking to enter the workforce. We are committed to ensuring that the skills young people with disabilities are developing in schools and colleges, are used in the workplace.

“We know that many young people, like Natasha, are skilled, reliable and want to work. This large group of potential workers are often overlooked by employers who are wary about future repercussions associated with hiring individuals with disabilities. Yet these concerns are often ill-founded, and people with disabilities also have the potential to add considerable value to organisations by contributing additional skills and talents to the workforce.”

While Warwickshire is the fastest growing economy of all local authority areas in England, the region isn’t immune from the national skills gap. This is why Warwickshire County Council recently launched a new campaign, Tackling Skills Shortages, which helps employers address this issue with a range of free practical support, including workshops; expert advice surgeries and tips for businesses to follow. The County Council has identified five key areas business can work on to tackle skills shortages, including tapping into wider pools of potential workers that can sometimes be overlooked, such as talented young people like Natasha.​​

Businesses can download the five point plan to help address their skills needs here: ​​​https://apps.warwickshire.gov.uk/api/documents/WCCC-688-334​

The County Council aims to establish 100 supported internships* across Warwickshire by 2021. We are looking to work with around 20 businesses to achieve this in the next three years. Businesses interested in finding out more about this initiative, should visit: skillsforemployment@warwickshire.gov.uk or call 01926418027.​​


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