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Work-Based Learning At SWR

Work-Based Learning (WBL) is an innovative programme which helps students into the work place through long term work-experience supported by study around transferable skills at school. It is unique in the South East and is being run by The Astley Cooper and Adeyfield Schools in Hemel Hempstead. It acts as a pre-apprenticeship or traineeship for school leavers giving them the experience and the skills they need to succeed in employment. Through the Careers and Enterprise Company, we could immediately see the benefits of being involved with the programme.

“Part of our mission is to enhance lives in the local community. By giving young people opportunities by working with Astley Cooper on the Work Based Learning Project we are actively supporting our mission” Jason Lee - MD at SWR

Why Did We Get Involved With Work-Based Learning?

We have the foundations in place to support students wanting to get into the workplace and learn. As a company we have an eagerness to get involved with the local community. The principals and activity of the WBL programme fit nicely with our company values. It is a real pleasure to support a young person’s introduction to working life and we see this as a great opportunity to find enthusiastic young people to work within our organisation.

Since WBL rolled out in September, we have taken on two students for three days a week each. In some ways, working with a student for three days rather than a full week, allows us to utilise an extra pair of hands without causing strain on business or staff.

This gives us a great opportunity to allow the student to try out different areas of the business, give the students the opportunity to learn and showcase skills and get to know the student well enough to hopefully take them on in their apprenticeship.

What Do SWR Employees Get Out Of Work-Based Learning?

The project’s had a real positive impact on the company – particularly on the teams the WBL’s are working closely with. It has helped new members of staff become involved in training, guiding and mentoring, and helping develop their own careers. We’ve seen our staff gain a sense of pride in “doing good” whilst the company has benefitted as a whole.

What Is It Providing A Work-Based Learning Placement Student?

Taking on a WBL student removes some of the pressures arising through the apprenticeship and recruitment processes. There is a straightforward application process with the school and students. Once matched up to the skillsets you require, an interview is arranged with the possible student(s).

During the students’ two days at school, they work on elements to further prepare them for the work environment. This includes matter such as time keeping or Health and Safety. The school has backed this up with further support along the way, regularly checking in with the student and ourselves.

In addition, there are regular touch points with the school that are fairly flexible. We have found these meetings invaluable; being around the table with like-minded companies working on the same programme has been very enjoyable and beneficial.

Future Opportunities

The Work-Based Learning programme creates new opportunities for students who may not be enthused by taking A-levels or daunted by applying for apprenticeships. Work-Based Learning enables them to broaden their horizons, understand what it is like in the workplace, get valuable experience and develop their employability skills and help them form a careers plan, whether that means staying with SWR or moving on to pastures new.

Nathan Hansford is one of the students who completed his WBL within our Production team. Nathan is very positive about the scheme and looks forward to starting his full apprenticeship.

He said: “Work-Based Learning is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I always knew that I did not want to spend two more years in school I just wanted to get my career started.

I now have a great CV with lots of experience and qualifications in transferable sills that companies really value. I would encourage anyone who is currently doing their GCSEs to apply for this course”.

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