Greg calls upon local businesses to nurture hidden talent

Greg is urging local businesses throughout West Kent to be more open minded when it comes to providing work experience to students with learning difficulties.

His pledge to raise awareness of the issue came after his visit to Oakley School, in which he heard first-hand about the difficulties its students face in obtaining work experience whilst in education and then paid employment afterwards.

According to the mental health charity Mencap, the number of people with learning difficulties who want a paid job is 60 per cent, but only six per cent have one.

During his visit to Oakley's Tonbridge site, Greg was also given a tour of Oakley College which had its first intake in September 2018.

The college, which is run independently of the school, provides young people with special education needs aged 19-25 with a programme of study and work-related learning and experience that will lead to further vocational training, internships and employment.

He also talked to members of the School's sixth form who spoke openly about their eagerness to find work upon leaving education, but also of their fear of rejection by prospective employers.

Greg said: "The disparity between those with learning difficulties who wish to work and those who end up with paid employment is extremely dispiriting, but one area we should be able to make swift progress on is helping young people with special needs gain work experience.

"Therefore, I am calling upon local businesses to nurture the wealth of hidden talent that can be found in schools such as Oakley."