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Apprenticeship success as Shantay overcomes employment barriers


18-year-old Beyond Housing tenant Shantay James approached our Redcar-based Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), New Directions, to explore how she could get into business administration.

At the initial meeting to discuss her previous work experience and aspirations for the future, YEI Advisor Emma Haley learned Shantay had dyslexia and had been talked out of following a business career path due to her learning disability. Despite the impact this could have had on her confidence, Shantay wasn’t disillusioned and was determined not to be dismissed.

Emma undertook information, advice and guidance sessions with Shantay to enhance her CV, helping demonstrate her skills and strengths more effectively. Together they also explored a variety of career options before coming full circle back to business administration. Shantay displayed a mature and positive attitude and Emma knew she would benefit from taking part in some mock interviews. Beyond Housing’s Employer Engagement Officer, Johanna Watts hosted the interviews to offer Shantay the chance to practice, as well as being able to assess her suitability for vacancies with potential employers.

To give herself the best chance of gaining employment, Shantay began a number of training courses with New Directions including a functional skills course for maths and English, plus a six-day hospitality academy delivered in one of Beyond Housing’s community centres. The hospitality course provided her with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a career in this sector, whilst also providing skills that could easily be applied to any customer service role. Shantay received very positive feedback from the course tutor, fellow participants and prospective employers who visited to see the trainees in action.

Although Shantay was building her skill-set through different training courses, the New Directions team still had her long-term career goals in mind. They contacted local apprenticeship providers and employers and were able to arrange a trial business administration apprenticeship with Redcar-based security firm, Elite Protection Group (EPG). Shantay’s positive, enthusiastic attitude was just what the employer needed and Jamie, the owner of EPG, offered her the apprenticeship on the spot.

Another local employer had noticed Shantay’s potential and also offered her a role, but the business administration apprenticeship was where Shantay truly wanted to be.

Emma supported Shantay throughout her time with New Directions and beyond. She covered her travel expenses whilst she was attending training courses, made sure she had blue dyslexic screen overlays to support her at work and took her shopping for suitable clothes and shoes to begin her apprenticeship. Johanna was also able to arrange a haircut and restyle for Shantay so she could start her apprenticeship feeling fresh and presentable.

YEI Advisor, Emma Haley said: “Shantay is such a positive individual who will go far in life. She just needed a little boost in the right direction and the fact she was offered two opportunities at once says it all – it was a pleasure to help Shantay achieve her dreams.”

New Directions Employer Engagement Officer, Johanna Watts added: “After meeting Shantay, I was so impressed with her attitude towards finding work and was very confident we could find the right employer for her.”

Shantay said: “I would like to thank the Emma and New Directions for all  their support and help with my journey. From the start, I knew they believed in me and this really helped me to achieve my potential and strive for the job I always knew I wanted.”