February 2024


Studley Castle reaches out to offer careers opportunities to all

“This is a wonderful example of how a business can remove barriers that exist within recruitment to give young people the best chance at being successful in paid work."

Studley Castle has long been an integral part of the local economy – and has a long history of enlightened approach to business.

It was way back in 1898 that Studley Castle became home to the UK’s first college for women to study horticulture. Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, a vigorous campaigner for female emancipation, set up Studley Agricultural College for Women to offer training in rural occupations. For more than half a century, the college trained generations of women while also serving as a Women’s Land Army camp during both World Wars.

Studley Castle then became, in turn, a management development college, conference centre and country house hotel before, in March 2016, it was bought by Warner Leisure Hotels. A £50m renovation and development programme followed and Studley Castle is now as deeply embedded in the community as ever, employing many employees from the local area and working closely with Studley High School to promote careers in hospitality.

Studley Castle is also an Inclusive Employer with Warwickshire Supported Employment Service (WSES), which is designed to support customers with autism and/or learning disabilities with an aspiration to work. Last year they hosted an Inclusive Industry Tour for 13 customers of the service and one of those customers, Jay Smith, is now employed at the Castle.

Jay has proved a perfect fit and is regarded as a “very capable and friendly and part of the team.”

First employed as a kitchen porter, Jay received regular visits from WSES employment support advisor Claire Dougan, who met with Jay and his line manager to ensure he was happy and the employer felt supported. On one occasion Jay was nervous to move into a larger, noisier kitchen but with Claire's support, a plan was formed to ensure Jay tried things at his own pace and knew how to ask for help if he needed it. With this reassurance, Jay went into the larger kitchen and never looked back.

He and his manager discussed how he could progress his career with Studley Castle and Jay is now completing his Level 2 Commis Chef Apprenticeship with the provider lifetime training. As Studley Castle is a Fair Chance Employer, he can access support via the Fair Chance flexible support fund which is a grant of up to £2,000 to support people in work.

Studley Castle general manager, Joanne Hammick, said: “Jay is a great example of the skills that are out there to be recruited and we are delighted and proud to have him on board.

“The range of skills that you can develop in the hospitality sector is a great starting point for young people to go on and thrive throughout their lives. We really want those skills to be available to everybody and that’s why we are an Inclusive Employer. Working with WSES is so important because it gives people a way back into work that may not otherwise be available.”

WSES Interim Delivery Lead, Charlotte Smith, said: “This is a wonderful example of how a business can remove barriers that exist within recruitment to give young people the best chance at being successful in paid work  The staff at Studley Castle have been brilliant, making Jay feel welcome and listened to.

“With the support of WSES, Jay saw his potential and it was Studley Castle who gave him the opportunity, as well as confidence, to take one step closer to not only a job, but a career.” 


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