Josh, Year 11 Engineering Ambassador, Westfield School, Sheffield

Josh joined the Cutlers’ Better Learners, Better Workers programme Engineering strand at the start of Year 9 in 2015. Westfield School has been taking part in the programme since 2012, offering Healthcare, Arts & Culture, Engineering and Digital sector strands. Last year, 150 Ambassadors took part at Westfield.

Josh, now in Year 11, has thoroughly enjoyed his experience on the programme so far. He is looking forward to receiving his Skills Passport next year, which is given to those who have completed the programme and developed the necessary skills. The Skills Passport documents learning along the programme and the development of skills needed in the workplace, demonstrating ability to prospective employers. The document is signed by the Business Champion, Head Teacher and the Master Cutler.

In order to be selected as an Ambassador on the programme Josh went through an interview process, which marked the start of his world of work experience. He said, “I was interviewed by a Cutlers Ambassador, and then by our Business champion and John Barber from work-wise. Not everyone who was interviewed was able to get on the programme as there was only 12 places available, so I’m glad I was chosen. The programme has shown me that being prepared for work is the best way possible for people of my age.”

Ambassadors on the Engineering strand gain experience of the world of work through workplace based activities, meeting with employers, twilight skills development sessions and involvement in events such as the annual Get up to Speed at Magna Science Centre in Rotherham. Josh has been involved in the event for the last 2 years. He said: “First I attended in Year 9 as a visitor, and then in Year 10 when we had to help to organise it and work there for the day. We have been a part of many challenges, these included creating our own business and representing a company. For example we got ‘sponsored’ by Sheffield Tooling Company Ltd and this gave us skills such as leadership & team working. I even got interviewed by Calendar news to go on the television that evening and talk about what we had done at Get up to Speed.”

Josh has also enjoyed a variety of skills building exercises throughout his time on the programme, which aim to develop the Better Learners, Better Workers Skillset – 18 skills that employers are looking for in potential candidates. Josh said: “The skills we learn over the 3 years include things we do every day at school such as numeracy and literacy, but then also how to be more organised, be more resilient and determined. Although im currently on the Engineering programme, these skills are transferable so if after I finish school I decide that I don’t want to do engineering,  I can still use these skills to help me in a different environment or industry.”

Ambassadors have support from a Business Champion from within the sector to help them develop their skills throughout the duration of the programme. Josh said: “Sarah Ward is our Business Champion at Westfield and she is always checking on us all, to see how we are getting on and she always encourages us to try harder and tells us how proud she is of how far we have come. She was with us from day one of me joining the programme and has worked with me for the last 2 years, which is good as we get to see the same person all the time which makes you feel more confident. I could never have got as  far as I have done without Sarah’s help.”

As well as having an input from a Business Champion, Ambassadors also take part in a two week work experience to further develop their skills and knowledge of the World of Work. Josh gained work experience at engineering company, Straaltechniek UK Ltd. He said: “Whilst I was there, I got to see all the different aspects of an Engineering company, such as finance, sales, purchasing as well as the shop floor which included the CNC machines, fabrication department and shot blast machines. I got to have a go at working in the Blast room using special equipment whilst wearing a special protective suit.”

Josh added: “We also visited one of their Customers called Tecomet in Sheffield, who make parts for the medical industry such as knee joints and hip joints out of titanium and also for Rolls Royce. It was good to see another Company and speak to their staff and find out more about what they do. Whilst I was on the work experience, the staff at Straaltechniek checked on me and Tom every day to see if we were enjoying it and staying safe of course. I never realised there were so many jobs in an Engineering company and it was good that we got to experience it. Every day I had to get up really early and make my way to the Company, it was hard at first but I adapted to it and used the skills I am learning on the programme to help me.”

One of the highlights of Josh’s time on the programme was being invited to the 2017 Careers and Enterprise Conference at the English Insistute of Sport. During the event, Josh was able to meet with attendees, including Lord Young, to discuss the programme and his role as an Ambassador. He said:  “I really enjoyed it and we got to meet Lord Young and have lunch with him. I had to answer questions in front of a room full of people, which I didn’t know was going to happen. A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to do this, but this programme has really helped me with my confidence, and speaking in front of groups of people.”

Another proud moment for Josh was speaking to younger students about becoming an Ambassador. He said: “Sarah took me to The Dearne ALC which is a School in Barnsley who also take part in the Cutlers’ Better Learners, Better Workers programme, and I talked to a group of 200 Year 8 students about my work experience and why I had become an Ambassador. Its really good that we get to see other Schools and meet other students as this also helps me build my skills, I’ve also made friends with people through the programme too.”

Continuing to speak about how the programme has help Josh develop his confidence, he added: “A few weeks ago I did a presentation to some Year 5 and 6 students and their parents at our local Primary School. After I had finished speaking, one of the parents came over to see me and asked if I would be interested in an Apprenticeship when I left school – he told me that he was Managing Director of a local Engineering Company, and would like to offer me a job as he was impressed with what he saw. I would never have got these kind of opportunities if I hadn’t of joined this programme.  My Head teacher who is new to our school at Westfield, was really happy with me too as he said I was a good Ambassador for his school too.”

Josh’s skills and confidence have also been recognised by local employers. Speaking about a recent work-wise Business Breakfast he had attended, Josh said: “I really enjoyed it and a few days after, my teacher said that Matt Sheridan from Sheffield Chamber of Commerce & Industry, had written a letter to my head teacher to say how impressed he was with me, I’m really proud of myself for this, and so are my parents.”

When asked if he would recommend the Better Learners, Better Workers programme to others, Josh said: “I often get asked if  I would recommend the Cutlers programme to other students, my answer would be yes absolutely ! it’s an amazing experience and you learn whilst you are having fun. Don’t get me wrong, the Cutlers programme isn’t always just fun and games, as hard work needs to be put in and effort has to be made, but I can tell you it will definitely pay off when you apply for a job!”

Better Learners Better Workers