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Renishaw supports SEND students with interview skills

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To help students with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in Gloucestershire, UK, access equal employment opportunities and develop skills for their future careers, engineering technologies company, Renishaw, has been supporting local schools and colleges through its science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) Outreach programme.

According to an investigation into SEND by Gloucestershire County Council, in 2022 there were over 17,000 pupils with SEND needs identified in Gloucestershire schools. Students with SEND often require more support in school environments due to common barriers to accessing opportunities, diverse learning needs and more. This is particularly true when students with SEND are transitioning from education to adult life to ensure they can learn independence and access employment opportunities in a way that meets their diverse needs. Councils can support these students as they enter higher education and the workplace by providing access to resources, raising awareness and fostering collaboration between educational settings and employers.

The recent two-day event organised by the Careers Hub, for example, hosted over 130 students with SEND from around Gloucestershire, to take part in mock interviews with local businesses. As a significant employer in the area and supporter of the Gloucestershire Careers Hub, Renishaw supported the event, with employees acting as interviewers for the scheme, helping participants develop their interview skills and build their confidence in a low-pressure environment.

Renishaw has also hosted visits to its dedicated STEM Centre for students from Ruskin Mill College, a college that offers placements for young people with learning disabilities. It also hosted the Shrubberies School, which provides specialist education for pupils who have severe or profound learning difficulties. During these workshops, students have been inspired by hearing about Renishaw and its early careers opportunities, along with participating in hands-on engineering and science activities.

As a follow up to the visit, Sarah Williams, Head of Department at the Shrubberies school, explained what the visit meant to her students, stating that: “I just wanted to say a massive thank you to the STEM Outreach team. So often our students are under-estimated in what they can do and Renishaw really brought the best out in them, inspiring them to look to their future and what they can achieve.”

“Encouraging accessibility and diversity in both the engineering industry and in our local area is vital to fostering creativity, driving innovation and supporting our local community,” explained Rebecca Bound, Early Careers STEM Outreach Officer at Renishaw. “By taking part in a range of activities, including contributing to mock interviews and hosting schools at our STEM Centre, we hope to introduce students with SEND to the various opportunities in engineering and showcase how their abilities can be nurtured and developed in a work environment.”

“We support our schools and colleges to prepare their young people for their best next step, whatever that may be,” explained Lauren Greening, Enterprise Coordinator at the Gloucestershire Careers Hub. “There are lots of hidden barriers for students with SEND as they enter the workplace, such as lack of flexibility from employers, unconscious bias formed by stereotypes and the focus on social skills in an interview that students may struggle with. This means students with SEND are often unable to access the same opportunities as other young people. Employers may be unaware of these barriers, so by including businesses in our efforts, we hope to overcome these issues and encourage more diversity.

“Activities, such as mock interviews , help to enhance the transferable skills that students need for work and life, and also support our local employers to understand what young people with SEND can do and how they can be a valuable asset to a business,” continued Greening.

Through this programme, Renishaw is able to create accommodations within its application and employment processes to initiate change based on the feedback from schools and SEND students. Through doing so, Renishaw can assist the Gloucestershire Careers Hub and other local businesses to increase accessibility and inclusion in their own practices. This scheme will then form a foundation to create change in the local area and improve county-wide opportunities for these SEND students.

Renishaw is committed to improving diversity and inclusion for its future talent pipeline. As part of its growing commitment to this cause, Renishaw also subsidised transport costs for SEND schools to attend the Cheltenham Science festival in June.

For further information on Renishaw’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) outreach programme, visit https://www.renishaw.com/en/stem-outreach.

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