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Run in partnership with Coca-Cola European Partners, the ceremony recognises those who have gone above and beyond in their support of young people from a range of backgrounds and championing difference and inclusivity in the further education sector.
Paul Sowerby from the Catcote Academy Sixth Form, which teaches special needs students in Hartlepool, took home the award for programme or initiative of the year. He said the award was for students’ work in care homes, where they made relationships with staff and residents.
They are now being asked to take on casual work and for full-days so they have “really, really come on”. “It’s great to have the care home on board, who have been very caring and on-board for our needs,” said Sowerby.
The awards were introduced by WorldSkills UK chief executive Neil Bentley-Gockmann, who said: “People talk about diversity and inclusion not as an event, but a progress.
“When I first joined WorldSkills four years ago, I said we needed to do a lot more work strengthening our processes and our work on diversity and inclusion. We need to ensure we are pulling on the best talent to ensure we are fully inclusive in everything we do.”
The organisation has conducted a root and branch review of everything it does, as well as an internal audit, to make its work as inclusive as possible, Dr Neil said.
Coca-Cola European Partners HR business partner Sharon Blyfield spoke about how her organisation “needs to understand the barriers for young people coming to our organisation”.
They have launched their ‘Just Speak’ programme to ensure employees “feel they can come to work and be themselves”.
“Anything I and my colleagues can do to move forward representation and make sure we create a level playing field for young people coming into work is a major factor for us – this is why we got behind this this year. We knew it would benefit us as an organisation.”
FE Week is the official media partner of WorldSkills UK LIVE and is providing live coverage from all three days of the event.