The first graduates of the ‘Veolia Academy for Street Cleaners’ have now taken to the streets of Camden to begin a new career in the recycling and waste industry.
Veolia, in partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Westminster Kingsway College, took candidates through a week-long ‘Academy’ scheme designed to help people struggling to find employment prepare for a career with Veolia’s street cleansing operations. The seven day course consisted of three days of pre-employment training in areas including customer service, teamwork and health and safety, two days of work experience in the field and a day of interview training. The week concluded with a job interview with Veolia Camden and the genuine prospect of full time, paid employment.
From the first group of nine hopefuls, five secured positions within the Veolia Camden team. All five of the recruits had been previously unemployed for anything from 18 months to 14 years.
Speaking about what the opportunity meant to him, James Smith, 48, and a Kentish Town resident all his life said: ‘I was unemployed for eight years before this opportunity came along. I’m dyslexic so I was a bit worried about spelling in the college but there was someone there to help with that and it all went fine. My life was on hold being unemployed, you can’t save and you can’t plan anything. Now it’s worth getting up in the mornings and getting out there.’
Elliot Roche, 27, who was also born and raised in Kentish Town said: ‘I was previously a chef and then I started my own gardening business but I struggled to find enough work and had been unemployed for 18 months. I’m very happy to have secured a position. The work is good and I like being out and about in the borough and speaking to people on my regular beat. I’m keen to take advantage of the training and development the company can offer to help me progress.’
Teresa Davey, Street Cleansing Manager for Veolia in Camden said: ‘Through the Academy programme, we get to see candidates in action and they get a chance to decide if the job is right for them. We always try to recruit locally and support the communities we operate in and in that respect alone this project has been a great success. I’m really pleased with all five of our new recruits, they are doing brilliantly, and I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen.’
Elena Barrasso, Employer Engagement Manager for DWP in Camden said: I’m delighted that the pilot has been such a great success. Programmes like this really work in helping unemployed people back to work and make a huge difference for the individuals and the borough. It’s been a great experience working in partnership with Veolia and Westminster Kingsway College to make this happen and we really appreciate the time and resource that has been put in to help get this off the ground.
Kate Child, Employability Business Manager for Westminster Kingsway College said: We work to help get local people into employment. Working with businesses in the way we have done with Veolia helps give people the confidence to succeed and the feedback and connection between our staff and the Veolia team was a huge help. We are very pleased at how successful the project has been.
Following the successful outcome in Camden, Veolia hopes to continue working with the DWP and local colleges to run this scheme in other areas.
Samantha Bradford, Interim Recruitment Manager for Veolia, who was instrumental in getting the company involved commented: ‘We have suspected for a long time that the traditional recruiting method of CV and interview means that for some our roles we are missing the best candidates. I am hoping that we will be able replicate the success of this programme across our business and change the way that we recruit for these types of roles for the benefit of our management teams and job seekers alike.”