People with disabilities are developing the skills they need to find work thanks to Steps into Work, an internship programme run by EDF Energy.
Good for society
- Alongside their City and Guilds qualification, students are gaining employment experience in a range of areas including IT support, catering, data entry and other administration activities.
- Ten out of 12 programme graduates have gained employment either within EDF Energy or elsewhere.
Good for business
- Of the EDF Energy employees who interacted with SIW students, 75.5% felt it had improved their understanding of the challenges that people with disabilities face in the workplace.
- 72.7% of the EDF Energy staff involved also felt the project had significantly increased their communication skills and 81.8% felt their understanding of social issues had improved.
Top tips from EDF Energy
Replicating a programme like this need not be expensive. SIW has proved good value for money. Any adaptions you make for students will benefit any other disabled visitors too.
The business case for this programme is that you widen your talent pool and give life-changing opportunities to people that may otherwise not get them.
The needs and experiences of each intern are very different - be prepared to be flexible and adapt your programme to face any type of challenge.
There are a number of additional barriers faced by people with disabilities when trying to find employment, but the Steps into Work (SIW) training programme is working to break them down.
The nine-month internship programme sees students with disabilities work with EDF Energy teams specialising in electricity generation, training, customer service and business support. This enables trainees to build confidence, vocational and social skills, with formal education sessions running alongside their work.
Disability organisation Scope found in its Million Futures’ report that issues including negative employer attitudes, lack of confidence and skill shortages, make it hard for some disabled people to develop the careers they would like. Working alongside National Star College in Cheltenham which provides further education for disabled people, EDF Energy’s programme has so far given 22 students the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience, working alongside the company’s 1,600 staff.
An important part of the scheme is the impact on EDF Energy and of the staff who interacted with the students; three in four (75.5%) said they now had a better understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities.
What EDF Energy's CEO said:
“Through our partnership with National Star College we are not only changing the lives of the students involved so far, but also creating a legacy for the future. The understanding, compassion and creativity fostered within the teams involved, has demonstrated the many benefits a programme of this nature can offer, and the powerful culture change that can result.
Signing the Disability Confident Pledge has solidified our continued and expanding commitment to create an inclusive working environment and reduce the employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people.” - CEO, Vincent de Rivaz CBE