Developing Initiatives Supporting Communities (DISC), one of the North’s most successful charities, has partnered with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust to provide work experience opportunities to local young people.
DISC typically work with students who for various reasons may not be in a position to progress directly into destinations such as an apprenticeship or some subject college courses. This can often effect a student’s aspirations as well as self-esteem.  DISC has developed an innovative, award-winning Steps4success Study Programme that focusses on preparing the student for employment.
Peter Summerhill, Acting I.T. Support Manager at the Trust, DISC’s Employment Engagement Advisor Rebecca Drummond and the Trust Work Experience Team have collaborated to provide students at DISC with the opportunity to shadow I.T. Technical Support Officers and gain an insight into the use of I.T. systems in a large organisation.
Securing a work experience placement is particularly crucial for students in vocational areas of interest, helping students gain first-hand experience of the day to day realities of the job. Experiences such as being part of a working team or having responsibility for particular tasks enables the student to feel responsible, trusted and relied upon, which are all very important in terms of developing and preparing them for the world of work.
Kieran, one of the DISC students taking part in the placement scheme, speaks enthusiastically about his experience, stating “My work placement was with the I.T. Support Technicians and before I started I felt enthusiastic about the opportunity but also nervous.” However, he settled in quickly, and was soon gaining hands on experience: “On my placement I got to rebuild a PC and shadow the I.T. Technicians. I really enjoyed the placement and at the end of the week I felt really happy and proud that I had achieved so much. I now know I would like to follow a career in I.T. and have applied to do I.T. at college.”
Rebecca Drummond said: “Completing a work experience placement has been extremely positive for the students involved and has helped boost their confidence and determination to be successful far more than any classroom achievements could have done. The support from Peter and the Technical Support Officers involved has been fantastic and we are very grateful to them all.”
Peter Summerhill was equally positive about the project, commenting “Starting a career in I.T. can be a challenge and whilst at university I was fortunate to secure a work experience placement that helped me establish a fantastic career within the I.T. sector. When I had the opportunity to facilitate work experience to other students, it was a fantastic feeling to give something back. The students we received from DISC, spent a week with us following an interview and I am sure they will benefit from their time with us in establishing their own careers in I.T.”
DISC are currently recruiting Students for September 2015 starts, if anyone is interested in joining an  Outstanding Grade 1 training provider then please contact  Emma Crawford Moore at DISC (Newton Aycliffe) on 01325 371160

DISC Work Experience image Peter  Stephen August 2015