Our social enterprise team have been seriously busy getting things going in 2022, and one of their tasks has been establishing a KERB work experience programme to support people in work.

The hospitality industry is facing serious staff shortages across the board as a direct result of Brexit and the COVID hangover. This work experience programme is a way to support often overlooked candidates in the workplace, and fill some of those gaps with truly passionate candidates.

How do we do it? We work hand in hand with impact partners who refer their job-seeking candidates to us. Our team then provide support and mentoring to them, offering them a chance to join the KERB work experience programme at one of our locations in London such as the National Theatre and Seven Dials Market, with the goal being to position those candidates to interview for real job opportunities within KERB.

One of those people is Josh.

We were introduced to Josh earlier this year by Action For Kinds (MyAFK), who were supporting him with finding a paid job. Josh has Autism and ADHD and found looking for a job challenging and unsurprisingly this was damaging his confidence.

With big ambitions for a career in hospitality, and a super positive attitude (as well as a passion for Formula 1!), we knew Josh would fit right in. And that he did! It didn’t take Josh long to complete his coaching and work experience with KERB at the National Theatre and secure himself a job offer. Josh was the first of our work experience participants to secure a job with KERB at the National Theatre – a mega achievement.

We caught up with him on the National Theatre terrace to see how he was settling in…

Hey Josh! Tell us about your studies and how you got the hospitality bug…

Where do I begin? I went to Haringey Sixth Form College and did a lot of my studies there. My maths was ok, and my English was about the right level… but then I studied NVQ Levels 1- 3 in Hospitality and Catering. I did lots of cooking before we were challenged by the Chef to a test – to cook a meal without his support. I did my best but made a few mistakes. But then the next time round, I cooked a roast chicken, some sea bass and dessert. And when the Chef saw that, he was really pleased! I’d made a comeback.

After my studies, I worked with MyAFK who introduced me to KERB. We came to the National Theatre, had a look around, and then I had an interview to join KERB’s work experience programme.

What was your first day of work experience like?

On the first day, I was really happy to be here and to get familiar with new people. When they gave me instructions I followed them, stayed fully focused, and didn’t make one mistake!

Everyone at KERB in the warehouse is very funny and they all help and support me. And also they have great leadership skills.

What were the best moments from your work experience with KERB?

For the first time, I was given the opportunity to actually work in a professional kitchen. I was a little bit nervous, but I did some chopping and prepared vegetables, sorted and categorised the produce. Then the next day I was able to step up to the next level, and for the first time, I made some soup! I really enjoyed working with the team in the kitchen, particularly the Head Chef Ian, who was very funny.

Both KERB and AFK have been so supportive throughout this experience.

How did it feel to get offered a job with KERB at the National Theatre?

I was really surprised to be offered the job of Logistics Assistant! I was in tears, I couldn’t stop crying for at least an hour! By the time I got home and told my Mum about it, I was still in tears! I felt so proud of myself and so happy. I didn’t know I would be getting a job at KERB, but all the feedback I’ve been getting during the work experience programme, all the support from Lisa and the team, and everyone having my back…

I have to say thank you to all the people who have supported me on this journey.

Are you excited about your future with KERB?

I’m only just getting started. I am excited… and I’m just pleased with myself. Everything I’ve worked hard to get to, with some struggles along the way. Now I am making sure I’m just taking one step at a time. But I’m really happy that I’ve now got this job with KERB – it means a lot to me. Thanks!

What MyAFK had to say…

“Without the KERB work experience programme, Josh’s progress would not have been possible. For this reason, for people like Josh, the work you are doing is making a big difference in the lives of the young people we work with. It’s not just a job for people like Josh – it is a chance to do meaningful work in a welcoming environment. An opportunity to continue the positive and constructive routine they once had at school and college, and to continue the development of skills and experience which makes the possibility of a regular income and independence a reality. It’s an alternative to the path a lot of young people find themselves in without this type of opportunity. A path which is increasingly leading to long-term unemployment, the breakdown of personal confidence and the loss of hope for the future. This programme and stories like Josh’s success give young people the opportunity they deserve and it is people like KERB that are making that difference.”

If you would like to find out more about the KERB work experience programme and our opportunities to support people in work, please email our Head of Coaching, Lisa: at lisa@kerbfood.com