Students across Cornwall with a range of additional learning needs and disabilities attended an event recently designed to inspire them about their future careers and to help break down barriers of routes into employment.

The ‘My Skills, My Future’ event was held at Richard Lander School and organised by Careers Hub CIOS. 109 students and 26 employers and support agencies attended the event.

The Careers Hub aims to joins the dots between business and education and to raise the aspirations of young people by working strategically with secondary schools and colleges in the county. The project is funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company, CIoS Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Cornwall Council.

Dan Elliott age 14, from Brannel School wants to be a mechanic when he finishes his education. He said, “It has been an awesome day, it has really opened my eyes about the fact that there are a lot of things that I could do in the future.”  Sam Crowan, age 14 from Penryn College agreed and said that this event will ‘help him make decisions in the future’. His mother Julie also attended the event she highlighted that she was “always worried about the next steps after school and this event really opened my eyes to the great opportunities available.”

The event had an array of businesses in attendance, from Newquay Community Orchard talking about careers within the environmental sector, to Bluefruit and Software Cornwall introducing the importance of technology. Speakers engaged and interacted with students using activities and presentations to fuel student ambition.

Sam Harmer from Penrose Kitchen in Shortlanesend attended the event alongside Hospitality Table Cornwall. Sam commented, “The event was excellent, we were asked a lot of good questions from some very interested students. It has been great to talk about genuine pathways for them and it has really opened my eyes to the hidden talent and enthusiasm there is in young people. There is so much potential out there.”

Sarah McCammon from Careers Hub CIOS organised the event, she said,“At the start of the year, Parliament reported that 18% of the working population had a disability and 340,000 of those were unemployed and in need of employment support. Nationally only 6% of people with learning disabilities move onto employment after they leave education and this figure needs to be challenged. Businesses need to understand the potential that students with SEN have and students and their parents need to realise the opportunities available to them. There are a number of great opportunities locally including, supported internships and the Ambitions project who can support students with employment opportunities. This is the first event and we will build on this to help inspire students to achieve their potential.”