February half-term will be a life-changing week for more than 30 Cumbrian 16-18 year olds taking the opportunity to learn about leadership and career opportunities within employers ranging from international engineering and construction companies to the office of a local MP and a Michelin-starred restaurant.
COVID-19 has this year changed the way the programme run by the Centre for Leadership Performance delivers engagement with young people and their experiences with employers.
CfLP and Dream Placement Host company partners are working collaboratively to ensure the programme offers a meaningful experience to young people which reflects new working practices. It means that despite lockdown and current restrictions students can still access amazing development opportunities to connect with employers and build key skills needed to support their future aspirations and careers.
CfLP and partners have worked together to offer online placements through Microsoft Teams and Zoom. During the placement week (February 15-19) students will embark on exciting projects linked to their primary areas of interests which will deliver real value back into businesses keen to gain the views and ideas of our future generation of leaders.
Online delivery means that students will pack even more experiences into their week-long placements, meeting with leaders and managers from the host businesses across the UK or worldwide!
The series of development events for almost 150 students who applied for Dream Placement 2021, and the selection event for shortlisted students were all delivered online including interviews between companies and students. Candidates also took advantage of opportunities to work with host companies on business problems and leadership challenges.
Live on-line confidence-building development sessions with presentations from host companies, and guidance on a range of issues from personal presentation and career progression to maintaining mental well-being have helped all students applying to gain valuable development opportunities and build networks with local employers.
A development day at the end of January enabled students who secured Dream Placements to work with their host company mentors to set aims and goals to maximise the benefits of their placements.
CfLP Executive Director Sarah Glass explains: “We have worked collaboratively with host-partners to ensure that despite the COVID-19 lockdown, Dream Placement 2021 really delivers the sort of quality experience that young people have come to expect from the programme. Our host partners have supported each other to share best practice on placement plans and we have also been offering training to help companies prepare and plan their placements. Interaction has taken place virtually to reflect new working practices since the start of the pandemic and has enabled CfLP and host company partners to connect with more students through a series of online development events, young people have gained new skills and an insight into how businesses may choose to operate in the future. We are really looking forward to maintaining contact with all young people who applied this year through Cumbria Future Leaders ”
Dream Placement is a collaboration with businesses, educators and young people within Cumbria. It is designed to help develop a future workforce for the county, and equip them with the leadership skills, experience and contacts to carry them through further education, university, their first job and beyond.
Dream Placement 2021 candidates include pupils from Cockermouth School, Energy Coast UTC in Workington, Keswick School, Lancaster Royal Grammar, The Nelson Thomlinson School, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith, Netherhall School in Maryport, St Benedict’s Catholic High School in Whitehaven, Ulverston Victoria High School, West Coast Sixth Form (Workington Academy), and West Lakes Academy in Egremont.
More than 2,500 young people have so far been involved since the unique Cumbrian programme began in 2014, funded by businesses that share a commitment to invest in the county’s young people.
Companies and organisations offering placements, funding and support include: Allerdale Borough Council , BEP Delivery Team, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria LEP, Costain, Doosan Babcock , Energus, Futurama, Jacobs Nuclear, James Fisher Nuclear, Lakes College, Mott MacDonald, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Responsive, Sellafield Ltd, Simon Rogan Restaurant Group, Soundwave, Story Contracting, Trudy Harrison MP for Copeland, and the University of Cumbria along with Inspira, Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC), Family Business Network, Hello Future, Invest in South Lakeland, Innovative Enterprise, Institute of Directors, and National Skills Academy Nuclear (NSAN).
The Centre for Leadership Performance is Cumbria’s leading provider of fully project-managed virtual work placements. CfLP Dream Placement co-ordinator Nicola Woolley adds: “Our procedures reflect safe remote-working practices introduced by companies and organisations and that in itself will be invaluable experience for young people entering the post Covid-19 workplace. We are carefully monitoring the latest Government advice and will continue to be flexible to ensure that the programme is safe and compliant.” Applicants also benefit from engaging with other young people and business leaders with whom they can share experiences and aspirations through Cumbria Future Leaders – set up by CfLP and now involving almost 1000 young people. The active youth network aims to connect and broker links with employers and other youth groups for dialogue and discussion