Perfect talk for a job

Burberry campaigners give real-world workshops to teenagers

Sixth-formers have been learning how to give the perfect interview by two women who helped workers at the doomed Burberry factory find new jobs.

Schools and colleges in Rhondda Cynon Taf, where the exclusive clothing label was made until the premises was closed in March, have been signing up for the workshops that promise to give post-16 students the social skills to make them employable in the "real world".

Maureen Shipton and Kim Loyns use the same motivational techniques on students as they did with Burberry's Welsh workforce when they were fighting a high-profile campaign to keep the Treorchy-based factory open.

The women believed their input helped workers focus on their futures and away from the glare of publicity.

They say their techniques will help 16 to 18-year-olds prepare for university and beyond.

"We find that young people either lack confidence or are verging on cocky in an interview situation," said Ms Shipton. "We help them find a balance."

Ms Loyns, a psychologist, said that good social skills were a must-have to boost the allure of academic qualifications.

"Knowing how to approach an interview can have a huge impact on confidence and self-esteem. It can really help young people achieve their goals," she said.

Both women run their own company, Interview Works, and have teamed up with Cardiff-based AMCAN Consultancy Training to provide the workshops. They are supported by the University of Wales Institute Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taf Education and Children's Services (14-19 group).

Both companies hope more local authorities in Wales will sign up to their service which offers assertiveness training, job interview techniques and public speaking opportunities.

Schools whose pupils have taken part were positive about the workshops. Kay Tyler, head of sixth form at Tonyrefail comprehensive, said: "It was lovely to hear the students' good feedback."

Huw Cripps, head of Coed y Lan comprehensive in Pontypridd, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for schools to further support the self-esteem and employability of pupils."

Bosses at Burberry announced last year they were closing the Welsh-based factory with the loss of 300 jobs because it was no longer commercially viable.

Campaigners forced bosses to pull out of sponsoring a pre-Bafta party but failed in their bid to keep it open. The workers' hard campaigning, said Ms Shipton, had meant they were not focused on developing the vital skills and confidence to find another job.

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