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EDF Energy celebrates success of Star students at ‘See the Ability’ event

By EDF | Posted November 17, 2014

Local business leaders attending an event held in Gloucester last Friday (14 November) to encourage firms to consider people with disabilities when recruiting heard how EDF Energy had made this work.

The business seminar, ‘See the ability, not the disability’, hosted by Gloucestershire County Council, The Federation of Small Businesses and Gloucester MP Richard Graham, also heard from Disabilities Minister and MP for the Forest of Dean, Mark Harper.

Employees at the energy company’s Barnwood offices are working in partnership with the Cheltenham-based National Star College in an innovative ‘Steps into Work’ programme developed by National Star as a route to employment for adults with disabilities.

Seven students completed a seven month pilot intern programme alongside 1,600 local EDF Energy employees, working within teams specialising in electricity generation, training, customer service and business support.

Job ‘buddies’ were identified to work with the students, with support from National Star tutor Matt Robert and Remploy job coach Tony Mellows. Many of the students became familiar faces around the Barnwood offices and impressed colleagues with their hard work and commitment to the programme.

EDF Energy has been able to offer four of the students continuing employment opportunities at its Barnwood offices, while two others secured employment locally thanks to the intern programme.

The company has this week started a second programme, with eight new students joining the scheme, which has been described by Ofsted as “highly effective”.

Business bosses were also shown a powerful film, with students talking about their experience of working with EDF Energy and what this had meant to them.

Bob Fenton, head of communications for EDF Energy’s generation business, said: “I hope that our experience will perhaps surprise and motivate other firms to think about how they can make a hugely positive difference to their own businesses, as well as to the lives of individuals. It has definitely been a two-way process for us.”

Davina Jones, Business Development Manager at National Star, said: “Being an active member of society is central to an individual’s identity, social role and status, whether that is through paid work or through volunteering. Through their time at EDF Energy the students are made to feel welcome as part of the team they are working with and recognised for the contribution they can make. They have grown in confidence and made remarkable changes in their lives.”