“We all have to start somewhere. The more exposure you have to the workplace, the more you can make informed decisions, the more you can look at your strengths and skillsets.”
Those are the words of Lorna Hunte, Employment Engagement Adviser at CER. Lorna works with a range of schools and colleges to arrange work experience for students aged 16-19.
Lorna is an advocate of work experience and employability. You can hear how passionate she is about supporting young people in the first stage of their career pathway.
We sat down with Lorna to find out more about her role and how she has helped the younger generation to start their journey into the world of employment.
Can you describe your role at CER?
I joined CER in November 2021. It’s my responsibility to manage the whole work experience process from the beginning to the end of the journey. I source suitable employers for the correct age groups, sectors, vocations and locations and I then match these with the right student. It is important that the students have a meaningful work placement.
As part of my role, I am responsible for the safeguarding of the students when they are at their work placement. I will make sure they have all attendees their placement and report this back to the school or college.
What attracted you to the role of Employment Engagement Adviser?
I’m a qualified maths teacher. Whilst studying to become a teacher, I worked in the retail sector delivering training to new starters and existing staff members. I loved training, so being an Employability Engagement Adviser is a mixture of both roles and an extension of my previous experiences.
It’s always a pleasure to meet the most incredible people; you become part of the journey. No moment is the same; it’s so enjoyable.
Why do you think it is important for young people to gain work experience?
We all have to start somewhere. The more exposure you have to the workplace, the more you can make informed decisions, the more you can look at your strengths and skillsets. It’s also an opportunity to explore other areas you may not have considered.
I would always encourage work experience. It can provide you with a good reference plus it looks great on your CV and it can lead to more doors opening. It can also help students who are very practical or kinaesthetic learners to shine. I believe students can contribute positively to a workplace and that is something we should promote.
CER also helps to source virtual work experience. How does this work?
We’ve been supporting virtual work experience for about a year. We have found some employers are interested in a hybrid of face-to-face and virtual. Virtual work experience has opened up a lot more opportunities for students and it’s also been an opportunity for employers to look at their technology and how they operate. There are benefits and challenges, but it is where we are.
Has there been a stand-out moment for you since working at CER?
I had a group of music students who were working with producers to create their music. They had the opportunity to share their work virtually with others and I was invited to attend.
It was wonderful – I learnt a great deal! The students were so gifted. It was held virtually but we all managed to communicate with each other in different ways – it was a good challenge.
You have also developed your website to help people into employment. Tell us more.
I am an advocate for work experience and employability and want to help people into jobs. I set up a website getjobready.co.uk aimed at students, job seekers, and careers advisers. On the website, I have added different resources for applying to UCAS, editable CV templates, apprenticeship opportunities and interview tip videos.
If your school or college is looking for support to manage work experience placements, you can find out more by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org