Post by Katie Cable, Careers Development Consultant. 

The Ventura single speed coaster bike brake system and my reflections on training in systematic instruction!

When I was first informed of a new project that CSW Group would be delivering, I was instantly interested in taking part.  ‘Inspiring Futures’ is funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company and provides supported work experience to Year 10 and 12 students with SEND.  It’s aims are twofold: for young people it aims to increase their exposure to the world of work, build confidence and work related skills and increase their knowledge of career options and  for employers it can build their knowledge and understanding of young people with SEND and increases their confidence in offering employment opportunities to young people with SEND in the future.

For me personally, I felt the project would provide me with not only the opportunity to update my local labour market intelligence but most importantly the chance to directly support young people to have some real experience of work, and help them to use that experience in developing  ideas about their future.  It would also help me to understand the real challenges/barriers to work that students with SEND can face and to be able to better support students into work in the future.

As a career development consultant, I spend a lot of time with young people of school age talking to them about their future and the world of work, they in turn leave school, perhaps go into further education and then hopefully find employment and settle into a career.  But for some this isn’t the case, and I saw this project as my opportunity to work with those young people that have perhaps been labelled as being the furthest away from being able to access the labour market and to see how it can be made possible through a particular method of training.

As a career development consultant with many years’ experience of working with young people with additional needs I thought I would be ideally suited to this type of work.  Being able to provide guidance to young people is based on the necessity to very quickly build up a trusting relationship with your client and put them at ease so that they can share with you their needs, wants and aspirations for the future.  It is these communication skills and personal qualities that I thought would make me best placed to adapt to the role of the job coach.

Turns out I was right….but with some minor tweaks! The training I received to prepare me for this new role was enlightening in that it made me think about working with young people in a different way and a challenge is always good!!

Some challenges/learning points that I will implement as a job coach are summarised below;

  • The training method was new to me in respect that it is predominantly non-verbal – the reasons for this being that, by talking to the trainee you are in essence distracting them from the task and therefore the learning that needs to take place. Aso, by engaging in conversation with them, your client is far less likely to form relationships that would naturally occur with their co-workers and most importantly for the job coach, you may have difficulty withdrawing the support as the client may miss the conversation and social interaction with you.

The role of a career development consultant is rarely ‘non-verbal’ and the challenge for me will be to explain to the young person that I won’t be talking to them whilst they are learning!

  • The trainer should not use praise – the task should be the reinforcement – if a trainee is doing well the use of praise will distract them from the task, eventually the trainee will stop concentrating on the task and look for reinforcement from the trainer. By using praise, you are creating something that is false to the work environment, support workers aren’t usually present in the workplace and staff do not usually get praised after every small task they complete. Worse still, some people could become reliant on praise and will find it difficult to work without the constant reassurance when the support is withdrawn.

I often find myself saying “that’s really good” or praising students during a careers meeting with a young person.  For me, it’s a natural response to use positive reinforcement when you are trying to build a positive relationship with a client.

  • Take ownership of your training – one of the fundamental principles of the training is that it should provide the trainee with what is called ‘errorless learning’. This means that any mistake the client makes is your fault and not theirs – you have not intercepted and stopped the trainee from making the mistake and you have not provided enough information to ensure their success.

As the Job Coach you need to prepare yourself well enough with the task you are going to train – this was demonstrated on the training by using the Ventura single speed coaster bike brake system!! Having stripped and re-built this more times than I care to mention, I now know that I can say with confidence that this method of training works!

During the training I successfully supported a student with SEND to build the brake system and moreover I achieved this with no verbal instruction and no praise!!  I have seen the stress of a client learning a new task completely removed by simply apologising and saying “Sorry, that’s my fault” when an error was made.

The training is based on a few fundamental beliefs, one of which being that “Everyone can learn if we figure out how to teach them”  and set the right conditions so that the person has the best chance of success when learning a new task – now that has to be a belief that is worth investing in!!

I am really looking forward to the challenge of working with the students, their families and schools on this new project and will reap the benefits of the value that it will add to my existing role as a career development consultant.

The projects runs through to September 2020 and on completion will see 90 students undertake a period of up to 5 days supported work experience.


Source used:  Systematic Training Course by Mitch Mitchell.  The Education People.