Aim to employ ‘winners’ at the start and publicise success stories as early on as possible.
We started to promote the fact that some of our first group of trainees were getting employed even before the end of the GROW scheme. When one of our trainees landed an 18-month contract, after competing against 600 other applicants, we sang it from the rooftops!
Taking advice from a mental health charity that successfully employs service users, we attempted to employ some ‘sure bets to succeed' in our first intake of trainees. Early successes could help change the attitude of sceptics in the organisation.
Our attempt to employ three out of six 'sure bets’ who would do well in their traineeships and move into work was, however, only partly successful. Our first intake of six support worker trainees resulted in:
two getting jobs without any major crisis
one getting a job after a period of relapse, job swap, reduction of hours and an extension to her contact
one getting a job after a mixed review at the 6-month point and an extension to her contract
two leaving the programme (one in the middle and one at the end) as they were not up to the level of support worker.
Only one of the three 'sure bets' successfully completed the traineeship and gained a job without any major crisis.
We also used many different variables to match trainees and placement teams. One of the criteria was to match more capable trainees with teams that were more sceptical about service user employment.
Again, this worked in some cases but being able to accurately predict which trainees were guaranteed to succeed was not as easy as it first appeared.