“I just wish I’d had a job coach when I started my work experience.”

ROC Midden Nederland (The Netherlands)

I recently met with six of the 15 newly certificated Junior Job Coaches at Cambridge Regional College in the UK. Actually I only wanted to interview two of them but six of them were so keen to talk about their training  I just couldn’t refuse.

The Junior Job Coach (JJC) programme is a new initiative, developed under the Erasmus+, programme designed to reduce student drop out; increase performance and retention, and provide a valuable supervisory experience for older students. Put simply, an experienced student, the Job Coach, is matched with a new student who might be at risk of dropping out and provides them during their work placement with advice and support remotely using social media and occasional face to face meetings.

The specially designed training programme is based on robust research with employers. It is focussed on the six key competences they identified as the most desirable in a job coach. The programme has a blended learning approach enabling both the learner and the tutor to access the materials. Delivered in six sessions no longer than 90 minutes each, the whole programme can be easily customised to suit varying timescales and the knowledge and competences already acquired by the student group.

So why did the new Job Coaches volunteer for the training?

Three had chosen to do the training; three had been asked by their employer or college tutor. They came from various vocational sectors: laboratory technician, engineer, hairdresser, administrator and hospital worker. Two wanted to do the training because they already found themselves supporting new students who needed help. All six of them were quite dismayed at the lack of or nonexistent support that the workplace provided for incoming students on work experience or apprenticeships.

Their comments on how most students experience nervousness and confusion during their first few days and weeks with an employer were frank and honest:

I saw trainees drop out simply because there was no work side support for them.”

“You can’t just jump into a job.”

“I was their first laboratory apprentice. There was no understanding of what that meant.”

“I was also the first apprentice in the company. There was just no clarity for me!”

And what did they think about it?

All of the new coaches mentioned how confident they now felt. They acknowledged how the training had given them the knowledge, understanding and skills to handle difficult situations and issues. Two thought that they were now much more aware of the importance of body language when they had face to face meetings with their coachees. Managing personal and confidential information and being discrete was a new and important skill they also valued. What was very clear was how seriously as well as enthusiastically they were going to undertake their new role as a junior job coach. They were ready for action and just couldn’t wait to start reducing drop out.

 

The Junior Job Coach Training Programme is one of three complementary products to be found at Junior Job Coach (JJC)