The Dentist Magazine.

A brighter future

Published: 29/02/2012

As unemployment of school leavers is the highest ever, surpassing the 1m mark, Neil Sikka, of Barbican Dental Care, has created an initiative that will provide training and real job prospects for this vulnerable group.

Working in conjunction with the local council, college and other practices in the City and Canary Wharf, Neil Sikka’s iNSkills initiative will provide disaffected youth of Tower Hamlets the opportunity to learn and work within the dental world. After an 18-month period candidates will graduate with an NVQ level 3 qualification in dental nursing.

The pilot scheme, launched in February 2012, has resulted in sourcing eight trainees from the borough of Tower Hamlets. Tower Hamlet Council’s Skillsmatch, the outreach team with established links in the community, was responsible for sourcing the candidates and will mentor the trainees throughout the duration of the course. Tower Hamlets College will provide the training on a day-release basis and students will gain work experience and valuable on-the-job training for the other four days. Students will benefit from a mentoring scheme to ensure their performance is maintained.

As well as taking on four trainees himself, Neil has been responsible for recruiting other practices to the scheme. The Dental Surgery in the Corn Exchange and Smile Impressions in Canary Wharf have both agreed to be involved in the inaugural launch. The initiative includes a ‘earn as you learn’ element, where students will be paid for their working and college time.

Neil concludes: ‘We are very excited about iNSkills. Initial interviews were very encouraging and we have recruited a very enthusiastic group of young ladies. We plan to roll out the programme to other practices within and adjacent to Tower Hamlets.  We are very committed to recruiting, developing and empowering our students and we are confident iNSkills will be a success.  If any practice owner is interested in joining this worthwhile programme please contact Dionne Marsh at’