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Skills coach Darren Wise blogs for us here about how coaching for many customers is not about big interventions, just simple signposts in the right direction.
When we think about barriers we sometimes automatically assume it’s about paying rent or having the relevant qualifications for employment. But what if we were talking about something as relatively simple as a communication barrier? Some people find it easy to communicate but what if you had recently moved here from another European country and were struggling to adjust?
This is exactly the situation Maria* found herself in recently and for her, communication was a real obstacle to overcome (or so she thought). She moved from Romania to Wolverhampton with her partner and young child back in March 2015. Her other half worked long hours on shift and with only a very small social network, Maria understandably became quite isolated.
When I first met her she was preparing to put her adorable daughter into nursery and was very keen to find employment. We started by helping Maria build a nice new CV which raised a few challenges in itself as we first had to translate her Romanian CV and school qualifications into English. Once we’d got that sorted Maria started sending the CV to potential employers and applying for local jobs.
Almost immediately Maria started getting a few interviews but she maintained from the outset that her grasp on the English language would let her down – both in terms of understanding the questions fully and being understood. We looked at some training options and found a fantastic e-learning provider called ALISON which offered a whole variety of free online courses – from speaking, to grammar, to literature, to punctuation.
Maria signed up and the results were noticeable almost straight away with her conversational skills improving drastically in just a few short weeks. As her English language abilities developed, so did her confidence and she began securing more interviews and getting excellent feedback despite sadly no job offers.
Maria’s biggest passion, aside from her young family, is hair and beauty and so with her agreement I supported her to compose a letter which was then sent to all the nearby beauty, hair and nail salons asking if they could help her gain some more experience. One of the nail companies came back to us and is currently in talks with Maria about doing some volunteering and training in their local salon which is brilliant and will really give her a boost in confidence.
More recently Maria went for an interview at a clothes distribution company and she has now secured a permanent, full-time position just in time for her little one to start nursery. Although it’s not her dream job, she is delighted that she’ll now be getting out of the family home and contributing to the income her partner brings in. And of course, by being in a working environment with a variety of different colleagues, her speaking skills will only soar to brand new heights. On top of her new role, Maria is also going to pursue training from the local salon to hopefully help her move towards her ultimate employment goals in the near future.
Maria is a lovely ambitious young mum and overall this has been a really great outcome – it just goes to show that something as simple as a free online language course or a speculative email to a local employer really can make all the difference. Our coaching approach isn’t often about big interventions, it’s just about pointing people in the right direction and being a friendly face if they need any support and advice.