Birmingham Careers Hub event a success
29 Jul 2021
On Thursday 8th July 2021, Birmingham Careers Hub brought together renowned employers and career providers in Birmingham to celebrate the success of a city-wide project developed to help more young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) access meaningful experiences of the workplace. The event, #documenting diversity #celebrating inclusion, involved students showcasing their work to an audience of influential employers including Wilmott Dixon, Lendlease, Jacobs, Aston Villa Foundation, John Lewis Partnership, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust, HS2 Ltd, Severn Trent Water, the Cabinet Office and more.
Dan Hickman, Regional Director for Jacobs commented on the success of the event. “This was by far the best event I have attended this year. We set out less than 12 months ago to make a difference and impact on the lives of those who need it the most. What I didn't anticipate was the impact the students would have on us.” The showcase demonstrated the “broad and diverse range of talent” that young people with SEND have and the businesses creating these opportunities really have “paved the way” for other employers in the city to follow suit.
The work however has only just begun. In the UK, the percentage of working age adults with a learning disability in employment is 5.6%. In Birmingham it is 1.3%, in a city where 20% of secondary school students have SEND. When asked why this was, Ruth Broome, Birmingham Careers Hub Lead (SEND), explains, “There are many reasons for this shocking statistic but broadly employers feel anxious and out of their depth when working with students with additional needs and this is a major barrier to levelling up the careers offer when they are in school and the creation of employment opportunities when they leave. Undoubtedly, employers have the potential to change life outcomes for these young people and our job at Birmingham Careers Hub is to support them as much as possible to make this happen."
The lack of work opportunities for people with SEND represents an impending health crisis for the city of Birmingham as statistics show that the difference in median age of death between people with a learning disability (aged 4 and over) and the general population is 25 years. This is largely due to socio-economic factors, which employers have the power to change.
Richard Winter at HS2 Ltd is doing just that. “HS2 Ltd is committed to ensuring that people from all backgrounds benefit from the thousands of careers and upskilling opportunities that Britain’s new low carbon high speed railway is creating. It has been exciting to work alongside other employers in the Birmingham Careers Hub to help more young people with SEND develop their careers knowledge and this celebration event showed how much these young people can achieve given the right support.”
In a continued effort to propel more young people with additional needs into the world work, Birmingham Careers Hub Cornerstone Employers, HS2 Ltd, Jacobs, Wilmott Dixon and Birmingham City Council have created an employer networking group ‘Inspire For Higher’, where employers and providers of all shapes and sizes can feel empowered to take the next step towards providing inclusive career development opportunities for young people with SEND and support them to achieve positive and purposeful career outcomes. They are looking for other employers in the city to either join as founding members of the group and/or to attend the launch event taking place on Friday 1st October, during National Inclusion Week.
Ruth Broome, SEND Lead for Birmingham Careers Hub added: “We want to encourage more employers in Birmingham to extend their careers offer to students with SEND, however we understand this doesn’t always feel easy. So, this group will provide an environment where employers can learn from and support each other to take progressive steps towards offering inclusive careers support and opportunities for these students. Anyone can join no matter where they are in this process, we just want to connect with more employers who believe in this mission.
To find out how to become a Founding Member of the ‘Inspire for Higher’ Networking Group contact Ruth Broome, SEND Lead for the Birmingham Careers Hub - Ruth.Broome@bep.education or to sign up to attend the launch event on the 30th September visit the Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/inspire-to-higher-networking-group-meeting-tickets-163368717231
Birmingham Careers Hub is a division fully funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company (DFE), Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP and Birmingham Education Partnership
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