East Durham College Students Shine at Inclusive Skills Competition

East Durham College students have shown off their skills by taking part recently in the Skills Show 2017, proving that having learning difficulties and disabilities don’t have to hold you back when it comes to looking for employment.

Macauley Dean and Laura Reynolds, both students at EDC, took part in the Skills Show’s Inclusive Skills competition. Thirty-nine students from 20 different colleges took part in the competition, competing in categories including ICT, woodworking, hairdressing, fitness training, catering and health/life sciences.

Students were selected from around the country after competing earlier in the year in regional heats. Macauley was the North East representative for media, while Laura, who is a health and care learner, took part in the catering contest.

“It has gone even better than we hoped,” said Louise Keevil, the inclusive skills manager at Natspec, which organises the competition. “Seeing the outcome today and having worked with colleagues across the country all year to get to this stage is overwhelming. I remember being at the Skills Show before inclusive competitions were about and thinking ‘hang on, we have a group of people missing here’ and now we don’t. It is totally amazing.”

Inclusive Skills competitions like this event are made to help young people with learning difficulties and disabilities to grow. By engaging them with competitions and a wide variety of tasks, events like these allow young people to grow their self-esteem and confidence, showcase their work skills and show employers that they are ready for the world of work.

“We know that the employment rate for people with learning disabilities is less than six percent.” said Clare Howard, chief executive at Natspec. “Employers are missing out on so much talent. At Natspec we are focusing on inclusive skills because it is a great way of showcasing all the skills and employability that these young people have.”

Both Laura and Macauley put their skills truly to the test during the competition, taking part against other talented young people from across the country in their respective contests. Both students competed extremely hard, with Macauley winning a silver medal for his efforts.

Dawn Wise, who is the Programme Area Leader for Foundation Studies at East Durham College, was thrilled with the efforts of our students.

“Events like the Skills Show open up new opportunities for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities that they may not have had in the past.” said Dawn. “We are all extremely proud of both Laura and Macauley for getting so far in the competition and it is truly amazing to see others appreciating the skills of our learners.”