Dallaglio RugbyWorks is an intensive, long-term skills development programme based on rugby, through which we aim to get teenagers outside of mainstream education into sustained education, employment or training.

On Wednesday October 18th a group of RugbyWorks young people from Newhaven School and the Phil Edwards Centre had the opportunity to attend an employability day at Halfords’ Autocentre in Croydon.

Halfords kindly run a number of these days each year and they are always incredibly enjoyable and engaging experiences for our young people. This one was no different! Mechanics and engineering are areas of great interest for many of our young people and it is invaluable to have supporters such as Halfords who are able to offer such bespoke opportunities.

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The day began with an introduction from Leon, Branch Manager, who explained to the group how long he had worked for Halfords and the progress he had made through the company. Our young people tend to have very fixed ideas about job progression, so exposing them to as many different career paths and opportunities is fundamental to their workplace learning. Leon then talked the group through the plan for the day. For the first time the day would be ‘live’. Young People would work on cars as they arrived at the Autocentre. Normally a Halfords Employability Day runs to a fixed agenda including a variety of hands on tasks; a car damage check, oil change, and tyre fitting. This time however, students would assist with whatever the cars required as customers arrived. This included a wheel replacement, oil changes and replacing a van’s brake discs. This gave a whole new dynamic to the day and offered the chance to really take the young people out of their comfort zone and deal with the unknown under pressure.

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We are delighted to report that our young people responded very positively to this and by lunchtime, tired limbs testified to how well they had engaged. Sadly, the Phil Edwards students had to leave early so Newhaven had the garage to themselves and all had a go at changing a tyre as quickly as they could. One young person, Jack, managed to remove and refit a tyre in 2minutes flat!

Overall, the day was incredibly practical and gave our young people the opportunity to see what a day in the life of a mechanic truly looks like. It was brave of Halfords to trust the students to participate in live situations, throughout which they supported and engaged brilliantly with our young people. It was a wonderful thing to see our students repay this trust and put in a hard day’s graft, not wanting to let the Halfords team down. Even the more reticent students remarked how much they enjoyed themselves in sessions the following week. One mentioned how it had broadened his interests and that while he had only previously focused on bike mechanics; he was now excited by a much broader view of the industry.

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As ever, we would like to say a massive thank you to Halfords whose continued support provides real and meaningful opportunities for all our young people.

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