College tie up with engineering firm allows Peterborough youngsters with learning difficulties to gain work experience

A partnership between an engineering firm and a Peterborough college has given Peterborough students with learning difficulties to gain valuable work experience.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 12:14 pm
Westcombe Engineering at Royce Road ENGEMN00120130613171000

Westcombe Engineering, part of Peterborough City Council, has taken on its first student as part of the new partnership with City College Peterborough

Charlie Dalhousie, who has autism, began his eight-week placement with the engineering firm last week. During his three day a week placement, as well as gaining experience in the workplace, 18-year-old Charlie will learn about the different aspects of the business and try his hand using the different machinery and technology.

Westcombe provides permanent employment and work experience for locally based adults with disabilities. Still today it stands by its core values with over 60% of its workforce having a disability. It was established in 1970 and in recent years has gone from strength to strength due to its continued investment in both modern machinery and its employees, to diversify beyond its traditional diesel engine components market to win new contracts in other industry sectors, while staying loyal to its partnership with global giant Caterpillar.

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It’s hoped that Charlie will move into a Supported Internship with Westcombe in partnership with City College Peterborough from September.

The work experience programme, which lasts a year, is aimed at young adults aged 16-24 with an Educational Health Care Plan who want to achieve sustainable employment opportunities and follow a meaningful pathway equipping them with the skills they need for work and life. Under the programme, Charlie would spend four days a week at Westcombe gaining valuable experience and skills, and one day a week at City College Peterborough taking courses in Maths and English as well as being supported in his career development.

Andrew Lesiw, Managing Director of Westcombe Engineering, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this fantastic new scheme with City College Peterborough. Since starting with us a week ago, we have already seen Charlie’s confidence come on in leaps and bounds and I’ve been so impressed at his initiative in coming forward with ideas. He’s really making an impact and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow over the rest of his placement with us.

“The Supported Internship programme is so important in creating opportunities for young people with learning difficulties, as well as giving them real world experience in the workplace which will help them develop the skills needed to start successful careers. I look forward to working with City College Peterborough to offer opportunities to many more students in years to come.”

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of Peterborough City Council, said:”Westcombe Engineering is one of the city’s, and the council’s, biggest success stories. It’s a shining example of what can be achieved when you offer people with a range of disabilities the opportunity to use their skills and talents in the same way as anyone else. Working in partnership with City College Peterborough to support young people in starting their careers is at the very heart of Westcombe’s core principles and I look forward to seeing more young people benefit from this experience.”

Tasha Dalton Winterton, Vice Principal at City College Peterborough. said: “Working with young people on their Supported Internship programme to access the world of work and learn transferable skills for the workplace is a key part of our curriculum delivery. Working with local employers and stakeholders such as Westcombe Engineering is a vital part of the programme.

“Giving young people access to industry professionals who can help mentor and make a positive impact on the young person is a pivotal part of the process. Working closely with employers we can improve the employability prospects for young people with Special Educational Needs. Celebrating difference and promoting diversity through employability programmes is at the heart of what we do, and I am extremely proud to work with Peterborough employers to make those opportunities a reality for our young people.”