Francesca, Alex and Andy met the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Deputy Mayor for Skills, Jules Pipe, for a personal chat about their time and experiences on the Steps into Work programme

Steps into work at the GLA

11 December 2019

Steps into Work, an innovative scheme that helps adults with learning difficulties and those on the Autism spectrum into employment, has reached its 10th year!

The programme is run by Barnet & Southgate College, Transport for London (TfL) and Royal Mencap. Over 12 months, candidates that have successfully applied to the programme complete three 10-12-week placements at TfL and partners like the GLA and the London Fire Brigade.

We caught up with three candidates reaching the end of their placements to find out about their experiences and highlights - from improving their IT skills to meeting the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan!

Alex:

I have enrolled as a Contract Management Assistant within the Adult Education & Skills team under the tuition of Nerida Devane and Nehanda Wright.

I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, everyone is very friendly and approachable and there are a lot of interesting tasks to undertake.

I have been able to show off the skills I already have, such as Microsoft suite, and improve in some in which I feel I lack, like having the confidence to communicate with my colleagues.

In one year's time, I see myself working in the administration environment and living independently. The advice I would give to future Steps into Work students is to discover your strengths and weaknesses; you’ll learn how to convert your biggest challenges into your greatest assets, and to work towards the environment that best suits you.

Alex’s manager, Nerida Devane:

Alex has really pushed the limits of his comfort zone. We are very proud of his work on our Adult Education programme and how he helped drive the GLA's Diversity and Inclusion agenda within our team.

Andy:

My name is Andy Gray and my role while at the GLA is Secretariat Administration Support within the Assembly Secretariat. 

A high point of my placement was assisting with the preparation for the London Youth Assembly (LYA). I was in charge of creating nameplates, and printing agendas and the LYA badges. I enjoyed my responsibility within the role. Some of the challenges I have faced whilst on the placement were making sure that any printing I have done is completed in the correct format that my manager has asked for. 

I feel that the Greater London Authority has taken to the Steps into Work programme fantastically well. With the support I’ve had my confidence has improved. I think that I’ve been able to support the team well in day to day tasks, such as booking meeting rooms. 

In the future, I want to be in a full-time administrative role. The advice that I would give a new student is to take the course day by day and try not to put too much pressure on yourself.   

Andy’s manager Georgie Abbott: 

It has been a pleasure working with Andy - he is hardworking, reliable and has a great attitude when given new tasks to work on.

Francesca:

My name is Francesca Sidley. I have Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Anxiety and Depression. The combination of these resulted in me having low self-confidence, self-esteem and motivation which stopped me from applying for jobs. Joining the Steps Into Work programme has taught me more about what my strengths and weaknesses are. Some strengths are being able to learn new tasks quickly and repeating them, I am comfortable with data entry tasks for example. One area I am improving is writing, as I struggle with writing-based tasks, for example taking minutes in meetings. 

The understanding and support I have received from my team went beyond my expectations. In order to complete tasks set to me I needed a step by step guide. I’ve found video lessons quite difficult to learn from, so instead, my manager sat with me and we went through learning material together. 

In one year's time, I want to have a full-time job in administration and be living independently. I suggest to those looking at the programme to explore your options, but when you find an environment you enjoy, to build on that.

Francesca’s manager Behrooz Mirmolavi: 

Francesca has added a lot of value to the team while she has been here. She has taught me and the team a lot about how people with disabilities can excel if they are given the right tools.

steps into work candidates meeting the Mayor of London

About the programme

Steps into Work is run by Barnet & Southgate College, TfL and Royal Mencap.

Throughout the year-long course, students are asked to complete three 10-12-week placements, either with TfL or partner organisations.

The programme helps those with learning disabilities/difficulties and people on the Autism spectrum to grow as individuals into confident adults, to know what their strengths are and how to maximize them.

All students gain a BTEC Level 1 Work Skills qualification and real-world work experience, as well as office admin/customer service skills. Those taking on placements as Customer Service Advisors with TfL can also work towards an NVQ Level 2 in Rail Services which focuses on customer services.  

How do I apply?

If you want to apply for the programme, you can email the Steps into Work team at TfL. Remember, you must have moderate learning difficulties or be on the Autistic spectrum - [email protected]

I’m an employer, how can I support staff with disabilities?

Disability Confident - Join the Government’s scheme to find out how to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees. This programme is particularly suited for small businesses.

Good Work Standard - Being accredited by the Mayor’s scheme demonstrates your business has met industry best practice benchmarks including ones around diversity and accessibility.

Mencap - Find out more and get advice about employing people with learning disabilities.

Share this page