A Birmingham University professor is helping to equip school leavers with the key skills they need to be successful as they enter the world of work. The Meet, Eat, Drink and Learn (MEDaL) programme, sponsored by Burton based hospitality company Punch, is a series of innovative employability skills workshops, designed and developed by Professor Jo Andrews from Sutton Coldfield.
Twenty-two pupils from Paget High School in Branston, aged 16 and 17, are currently benefitting from weekly sessions, designed to equip them with vital life skills including communication and presentation, team building and team leadership, managing projects and events, support with constructing a personal statement, writing a distinctive CV and interviewing for success. The weekly sessions take place at Punch’s managed pub – the Blacksmiths Arms in Branston and form the next phase for the MEDaL programme, which has already supported youngsters from Wilson Stuart School in Birmingham, Anthony Gell School in Derbyshire and Holyport School in Maidenhead by utilising the resources of local pubs.
The scheme has also received the backing of Sir Michael Parkinson and his son Nick Parkinson whose pub, the Royal Oak, Maidenhead, provided a function room for a MEDaL training session. Professor Jo Andrews said: “It should not be assumed that young people are always ‘work ready’ when they leave school. The MEDaL programme has therefore been designed to provide the core, essential skills for that first venture into the world of work. These are the skills that every employer would welcome seeing in a new recruit to their organisation. All the students participating to date have been lively and engaging, demonstrating their enthusiasm to learn and their commitment to acquiring these essential employment skills.” Sixth Form Student Hasan Hussain stated that as well as gaining confidence with interview preparation, the course has also helped him with presentation skills for his role with Paget’s Young Enterprise team. He said: “Jo has given us the skills to take the initiative in group situations and the course has given us time outside school, which has enabled new friendships to form and improved our teamwork”. Jackie Burn, HR and Services Director for Punch added: “This is a fantastic initiative and we’re delighted to be able to support young people from our local community to develop those all-important employability skills. One of our Development and Training Managers, Jim Owthwaite is also running one of the modules to share some insight for the students of what it is like to work within the hospitality sector. Jackie added: “Hosting the course at one of our pubs is also a superb example of how important pubs are to the local communities they serve.”