Inclusive Careers Tours prove an immediate success
"One young person loved the environment at Studley Castle so much that he asked if he could come back - and the team immediately offered him kitchen work experience."
The first Inclusive Careers Tours organised by Warwickshire Supported Employment Service (WSES) proved a great success as dozens of young people and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism gained behind-the-scenes insights into employment.
WSES, which was launched in February, aims to help over 400 people into paid and sustainable employment every year. It takes them through the whole journey into employment and Inclusive Careers Tours are a big component of that strategy. The aim of the tours is to showcase the various roles available within different sectors and the theme of the first tours was hospitality.
Three mixed groups aged between 19 and 62 years were invited to locations across Warwickshire: Draycote Hotel & Whitefields Golf Club in Rugby, The Crowne Plaza Hotel, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Studley Castle in Alcester.
At each location, the groups were warmly welcomed by the hotel management teams and served refreshments while staff gave a short presentation on the hotels and their facilities. This was followed by a guided tour behind the scenes and a chance to try out some of the leisure activities on offer.
At the Draycote Hotel, the group tested their skills on the golfing range which proved a huge hit. They also 'checked in' to one of the rooms to talk about housekeeping and find out how the rooms are cleaned and prepared for the next guests.
Jo Billings, Business Development Manager at Draycote Hotel & Whitefields Golf Club said: "It was an absolute pleasure to host the group and the team here really enjoyed getting involved. Making sure the group had an engaging experience whilst feeling at ease was our aim, so I am really happy that this was the case."
Following the tour at the Crowne Plaza, one of our group was so impressed, he asked on the day about working in the hotel. WSES is now in the process of arranging some work experience sessions which will give people a real taste of a career in hospitality.
Robin Ford, General Manager at Crowne Plaza, said: "It was an absolute pleasure to meet the group and we are looking forward to seeing all again soon."
Each tour ended with new friendships made and the seeds of some new careers sown. The feedback overall was hugely positive with some people already asking about jobs in hospitality. One young person loved the environment at Studley Castle so much that he asked if he could come back - and the team immediately offered him kitchen work experience which is due to start soon.
Jo Hammick, general manager at Studley Castle, said: “I was excited to be able to invite the group into Studley Castle. Their engagement and energy was fantastic.
“I love working with the Warwickshire Skills Hub team - they give so much and I am always pleased to be able to be part of it. The hospitality industry enriches so many lives and is an excellent career choice for people of all backgrounds and abilities. There is so much support available now to help people into work and I hope that I will see a few of them again on our team.'
Please click here to see the Warwickshire Supported Employment Service's inclusive tour of Studley Castle.
Warwickshire County Council Lead Commission for Employability & Skills, Fay Winterburn, said: “Warwickshire Supported Employment Service is all about ensuring that our customers get the best experience from their journey into employment and the Inclusive Careers Tours are fantastic because they give insights into the world of work from the inside.
“More tours are planned in the near future and we are very thankful to our Fair Chance Employers for taking time out of their busy schedules to host our groups and give them an opportunity to see behind the scenes of how hotels operate.
“It was genuinely moving to see how much some of the people in the visiting groups got out of the day. For some, just the fact that they attended was a huge deal and an even bigger step in building their self-confidence to be mixing with others and walking round a public space. Watching them relax and open up was really great to see and it allowed them to start up conversations with people they didn't know and ask questions without being prompted.”