The most recent Bradford based cohort of our Co-operative (Ad)Venture programme finished in style last month with a day’s work experience at Co-op Group Head Office in Manchester. 

The learners, who are all students at Southfield Co-op Academy, had already completed the innovative (Ad)Venture programme which supports young people with learning difficulties, disabilities, and autism transition from compulsory education to the world of work, training, or further education. Their co-operative learning journey saw them set-up and run their own informal co-operative – a school radio station. Radio 1 DJs better watch out as one participant told us “I’ve never used a mic and for the first time I did use a mic – it’s been so much fun. I don’t want it to end!’ 

Whenever possible, Co-operative (Ad)Venture incorporates work experience at a co-operative or ethically driven employer, to help strengthen the key employability skills learned throughout the programme. And the jam-packed day at Co-op Group Head Office gave the young learners a chance to test out their creative, communication, planning and leadership skills! 

During the day the students worked with staff from the Food Format and Innovation, and Customer and Value Planning teams, and got to meet and question some of the Co-op Group’s leadership team, including interim Chief Executive, Shirine Khoury-Haq. 

Co-operative (Ad)Venture Bradford Southfield learners in Co-op Store

The interactive activities organised as part of the day’s work experience included designing and decorating a range of gingerbread – which included learning about food development, ingredients, allergies and how products are delivered into stores. Students were also able to take advantage of the in-house food store to learn about store innovation planning, experiencing the pros and cons of different store layouts, including location of tills, food isles and flow of customers. 

The mix of practical accomplishments and co-operative learning that the Co-operative (Ad)Venture programme offers sets it apart from other programmes of this nature. 

The College’s recently launched 2022-2025 strategy clearly defines our commitment to working with young people, especially disadvantaged youth. Research shows that young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism are much more likely to experience loneliness and isolation and are less likely to find employment after leaving school. Every aspect of Co-operative (Ad)Venture is designed to help learners engage with each other and their community, develop a sense of self-worth, and help encourage them on to a positive post-school destination. 

Get in touch if you'd like to speak to us about how we could help young people in your area, or if you'd like to donate to the College to help fund a project.