Our News

29 July 2011

Sam goes from homeless to employed in six months after studying a course at Coleg Glan Hafren

The award-winning Entry to Vocational Studies course at Coleg Glan Hafren, which will merge with Barry College to become Cardiff and Vale College on the 1st August, has helped 18 year old Sam Newman, who found himself homeless for five months earlier this year, back into education and employment.   

The Entry to Vocational Studies (EVS) course was designed in partnership with Cardiff City Council, Careers Wales and the Leaving Care Service in Cardiff and is aimed specifically at getting young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) back into the educational system.

As a homeless young person in Cardiff, Sam lived in a tent with his friend’s dog for weeks before moving into a hostel and eventually into a shared house. As the number of young adults not in education, employment or training has risen to its highest level in 15 years; Sam has defied the statistics and has banished the ‘NEET’ tag from his name. “If I didn’t get onto the Entry to Vocational Studies Course, I’d probably still be on Jobseekers Allowance,” said Sam, “it’s completely changed my life.” 

Through the EVS course and the College’s partnership with Llamau and the Learning 4 Life programme, Sam is now working with W.E.Dowds Shipping Ltd in Alexandra Dock, Newport, where he has been working full-time since 5th July. W.E.Dowds is a family owned business which concentrates on the handling of steel products. Sam is currently shadowing the soon-to-retire Paul Thomas, learning and training the care and maintenance needed for vehicles such as forklifts and cranes. He is visited weekly by College staff to check on his progress.

18 year old Sam said, “The Entry to Vocational Studies course has completely changed my life. It’s made me a better person, with more confidence and skills and I’ve come out the other end with so many qualifications. I would advise anyone to go on the Entry to Vocational Course because it’s given me a second chance in life and the opportunity I needed to get where I want to be. I love my job at W.E.Dowds and I’m really lucky and grateful to be in this situation as the majority of my friends are out of work. I would love to stay at W.E.Dowds until I retire.”  

From the age of seven to eleven Sam used to find bike parts in the woods and build bikes with his best friend. This is where his love for mechanics began, but like some young people who become NEET, Sam was disengaged in school and was expelled from Llanedeyrn High School at the age of fifteen. He was transferred to Bryn-Y-Deryn School but before long was sent back to Llanedeyrn High School where he was put on full time vocational study.

His vocational timetable included three days a week at the Three Archers Training Garage in Trowbridge and two days in the Amelia Trust Farm in Barry, where he would work on the care and maintenance of farm vehicles. Sam also began working part-time in the Three Archers Garage in Llanishen. By the time Sam was sixteen, he had gained an NVQ Level 3 in Mechanics but was let go from his part-time role in the Three Archers as they couldn’t afford to keep him on in the tough economic climate. Sam found himself unemployed and looking for work for the next year.  

Careers Wales then referred him to the Sport Training College in Grangetown. It was here Sam heard about Coleg Glan Hafren and later enrolled on the Entry to Vocational Studies course. The EVS course was in its first year and is designed to inspire disengaged young people by raising their aspirations and confidence levels so that they’ll progress onto further study or employment.

Learners study literacy, numeracy, work skills, employability and entrepreneurship from Tuesday until Thursday, with the opportunity to study a vocational subject on a Friday. Sam decided to study Auto Engineering on Fridays so he could pursue his passion of working in the industry. 

Sam will also be progressing on to the Pre-Apprenticeship Body Repair course at Cardiff and Vale College in September, attending College three days a week for his timetabled lessons and working part-time at W.E.Dowds. During half term and holidays, Sam will return to work full-time at W.E.Dowds. Julie Boycott, Human Resources at W.E.Dowds Shipping Ltd said, “Sam is currently working with us full-time until he restarts College in September, when we will decide his hours around his College commitments. Sam is in College for another two years and can continue to develop his skills with us at W.E.Dowds. If everything runs well over this period of time we will look at his possible future here.” 

Head of Business and Professional Faculty at Coleg Glan Hafren, Denise Olander said, “I am proud of Sam’s progress to date as one example of the big success of the Entry to Vocational Studies course in its first year. The reasons for the success is due to extremely hard working teachers and learners, amazing support mechanisms for learners both in College and from our partners – Careers Wales Learning coach teams and the Cardiff Leaving Care Team and because of all the additional enrichment experiences that our learners have received from companies such as W.E.Dowds, via Llamau.”

Due to the success of the EVS programme, in September the College will double the number of places available which will include four classes of fourteen students. The range of vocational options will increase next year from the current offering of Hair, Beauty or Auto Engineering to include Retailing and Administration and Construction.

The EVS course has formed a partnership with retailer Morrisons and the 2010/11 students will be time tabled to attend one of three Morrisons sites in Cardiff, to do one day a week of voluntary work. This will lead to an induction with the company in September, paid work at Christmas if suitable or a reference for future use. The 2011/12 students will have employability sessions at Morrisons and will hopefully continue the same system as the 2010/11 students.

The EVS course has also formed partnerships with Howells, Newport Fire Station on Malpas Road, The Celtic Manor Resort and many multi agencies across both Cardiff and Newport.