Cardiff and Vale College student Ewan’s career journey leads him to CF10 via Project SEARCH

21 Feb 2022

Despite enrolling at Cardiff and Vale College with little self-confidence, Ewan Heppenstall has found employment through a major international project which provides employment and learning opportunities for young people in Wales.

Ewan, who is 23 and from Barry, joined CAVC in 2018 on a Work Skills Entry Level 2 programme, lacking confidence in his abilities. But his willingness to learn and explore career options soon became apparent and he progressed on to the Work Skills Entry Level 3 programme.

In 2020 he gained three internships at Dow Silicones as part of CAVC’s involvement in Project SEARCH, an initiative that started in the USA more than 20 years ago to give people with additional learning needs employment opportunities. Ewan developed and grew with each internship, and was so well-regarded on his third that he was nominated course representative by his Project SEARCH peers.

Ewan has now found employment with CF10 retail in Simply Fresh, the supermarket on Cardiff and Vale College’s City Centre Campus. The College’s retail team regularly employs students, with a large number coming from CAVC’s Preparation for Work, Life and Learning Department (PWLL) for people with additional learning needs.

CF10 Retail Manager Anthony Ruston said: “Ewan has been a very welcome addition to our team – he has demonstrated a passion to develop in his role, has excellent customer service skills and has really grown in confidence in the time he has been with us. Ewan brings his great personality to work with him each and customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and he has built up a great rapport with many of our regular customers.”

“Project SEARCH has changed my life by helping me gain confidence, which gave me the belief in myself when applying for my future career,”
Ewan said. “Project SEARCH has given me the drive, dedication and the motivation to work towards my goals and prove to everyone that I can be successful.

“I really enjoyed working at Dow Silicones as part of a team that included my fellow interns and colleagues. I am very grateful for the social connections I have made with my team-mates and colleagues – it meant that I was excited when going into work each day.

“If it wasn’t for Project SEARCH I don’t think I would have the skills and confidence to enter the world of work.”

Ewan has now offered to be an ambassador for Project SEARCH, supporting future interns and presenting his journey and how it has changed his life to people considering joining the programme.

CAVC Head of Preparation for Work, Life and Learning Wayne Carter said: “Ewan is a shining example of the journey that young people embark upon when they come to Cardiff and Vale College. From a shy and quiet individual with limited confidence and work skills, we have empowered Ewan to believe in himself, stretch and challenge him and provide opportunities that he can thrive on, focusing on things he can do and not what he can’t do.

“The transitional nature of our programmes allows for growth and development both academically and personally alongside real-world work experiences leading to further education, training or employment. We are focused on providing better outcomes for young people but recognise that collaboration and partnership is at the heart of realising individual and organisational goals.

“Everyone who has been a part of Ewan’s journey – from a learner to an intern to employee and colleague – is delighted that he has recognised and achieved his full potential and with his self-belief can achieve so much more. We could not be any prouder!”