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Scomis work placement

In early 2021, Sophie Fisher, a personal advisor from the Permanency and Transitions Team, part of Children’s Services, approached the Step Forward Team in relation to a young person she was working with:

“I contacted Step Forward in the first instance regarding this young person as I have had great experience working with their team previously for another young person.

“As corporate parents we need to look within our own departments for opportunities for our care leavers. Just as a parent who runs their own business may offer work experience or a paid part time job, we should be showing the same passion and support.”

Devon County Council holds a corporate parenting responsibility to all Devon care leavers and is continually looking for creative ways to exercise that responsibility. This presented a way to do just that.

Step Forward entered into conversation with our IT provider Scomis to explore how we could support this young person to develop much-needed workplace exposure, in a positive and useful way, evoking our corporate parenting responsibility while also seeking to develop future pathways for Devon care leavers.

Sophie said:

“I was so impressed by the way the Step Forward team organised and liaised with several people that worked for Scomis, supporting him and DCC staff to work out how potential employment could be offered, and what would best suit his interests and skills.”

Following a number of conversations with the young person and different Scomis departments we were able to make contact with the Software as a Service department – the specific area our young person was keen to gain more workplace experience of.

Having pitched the idea to the service manager we were able to talk together to explore what options may be possible. The service manager, Andy Goodchild, was able to see some potential in both the young person and the idea and committed to making something happen.

After some joined up working across the departments between Scomis, Step Forward, and the HR Team, we were able to set up a paid work placement over the summer for this young person giving much needed experience and insight to the workspace that will be invaluable moving forward.

Andy said:

“This opportunity has been great for both my team and the young person. It helped us to give him some insight into the world of software development and he’s added real value contributing to some key projects that will benefit the team for many years to come.”

Due to the foresight of the personal advisor to ask the initial questions, the responses and tenacity of the Step Forward programme and the willingness of the service manager, a position was made possible.

Having had such a positive experience together the young person has been able to move on into a master’s programme at his chosen university while continuing to work part time for the department, both earning money, to help with university costs, gaining further experience as well as contributing to the work of the department.

As a department, Software as a Service is enjoying the input from a young talent with a fresh perspective. The Step Forward participant said:

“This work experience has undoubtedly provided me with an advantage when applying for jobs. Regardless of whether I have a BSc and/or an MSc, employers tend to favour those with real world experience.

“Not only does this provide me with that but it also enhances my studying and working methodologies when writing out reports, writing software and knowing what’s required to be an effective member of a team.

“Having this work experience has been positive because I am able to develop skills required for real world jobs simultaneously alongside my studies.”

Could you offer something different?

We are consistently looking for places for young people to gain work experience, support and development. Maybe you have a clear idea on how you could offer this or maybe you just want to talk about if and how it could come together.

We’d love to talk to you about how we could work together for the benefit of Devon care leavers please contact the Step Forward team by calling 01392 383000 (ask for Apprenticeship team) or emailing