28 Jul 14

Star students see their career prospects energised by work placements

Seven students from the Cheltenham-based National Star College this month (Thursday 24 July) celebrated completing a pilot intern programme at the Barnwood offices of EDF Energy.

The energy company is supporting the ‘Steps into Work’ programme developed by National Star as a route to employment for adults with disabilities.

The students began their interships in January and joined the 1,600 EDF Energy employees based locally by working within teams specialising in electricity generation, training, customer service and business support.

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

The end of the programme was marked by a graduation ceremony held on 24 July attended by the students and their families, job buddies and teams who supported the students, as well as many others who came into contact with the students during their time with the company. Also invited were representatives from EDF Energy’s Diversity & Inclusion Network and National Star.

Continuous Improvement and Operational Support Director, Peter Prozesky, EDF Energy’s Sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion, hosted the celebration ceremony and said: “It has been a real pleasure for us to host the students and tutors. I hope they have got as much out of it as we have.

"There is no doubt that through taking part in the programme we have learnt a lot about ourselves that will help us in the future – it definitely has been a two way process. I would also want to pay tribute to our teams who have acted as hosts and job buddies.”

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 have been 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. For these seven students this intership has been life changing.”

EDF Energy has been able to offer four of the students continuing employment opportunities at their Barnwood offices, while another student has been able to secure other employment locally thanks to the intern programme.

The company is now looking to support phase 2 of the ‘Steps into Work’ programme and is encouraging other local businesses to offer similar placements by working with National Star.