Pontoon partnership benefits students and employees
A partnership between Keele University and Pontoon Solutions has seen a number of students with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) gain valuable work experience whilst also increasing the skills of existing employees.
Five students and one graduate participated in the programme, which was made possible through a partnership agreement between the University and Pontoon Solutions, a global recruitment outsourcing company that is part of the Adecco group and is based on Keele University Science and Innovation Park.
As part of the programme, which took place between February and April 2017, Pontoon allocated members of staff to act as mentors for the six participants, all of whom had never worked in an office environment before. These mentors provided one-to-one support to the students and also met with them before the placements began to help remove any fear that the students may have had regarding the project. This was later noted by the participants as making a real difference to how they felt and gave them confidence about their placement at Pontoon.
At the end of the placements, both parties said that it was a positive and rewarding experience. Several of the students reported that they now feel less anxious about the future world of work as a result of their placements and are now more confident in speaking to others about their needs. One student in particular fed back that their increased confidence has encouraged them to look for more work experience placements.
As well as seeing the participants grow in confidence, the mentors said that they too had benefited from the experience by upskilling themselves and developing valuable mentoring skills that will be helpful in their career progression.
Following the success of this project, it is hoped that it will be delivered again during the next academic year to allow more students with an ASD to gain valuable work experience.
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