Source – the Express & Star 21st January 2021

The Ladder for the Black Country is working with other organisations to support young people with special educational needs and disabilities as well as those educated in pupil referral units.

The hope is to encourage employers to adopt an inclusive approach to taking on work experience pupils, future supported interns and apprentices to ensure there are opportunities for all.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a big impact upon students in schools. Prince’s Trust research has revealed that 44 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds say their aspirations for the future are now lower as a result of the pandemic.

The Ladder is urging employers to act now to prevent a lost generation.

As physical and face-to-face work experience has been postponed, pupils in schools are missing out on the valuable interaction.

Special schools and pupil referral units have been particularly affected by Covid-19 restrictions. The Westminster School, Rowley Regis, is supporting their young people by offering an internal work experience programme. Students apply for a position on the job board and get interviewed as they would in a real-life scenario.

Pupils then conduct their jobs as they would on a work placement, before reporting to their direct line manager. Westminster Special school pupils Chrissie and Jodie, had internship placements with Interserve, based at Russell Hall Hospital. Unfortunately, they could not take place due to Covid-19 restrictions. To support the pupils development, the Westminster School has since placed the pupils at their own premises so that they can resume these roles.

The Black Country Careers Hub and Speakers for Schools are running a SEND pilot in The Black Country to offer pupils with additional needs a virtual work experience with local Black Country employers. To find out more contact www.blackcountryskillsfactory.co.uk/contact-us