Anyone of a similar age to me would have experienced the exceptionally poor “Careers advice” in school in the late 90’s. The advice and support given was not only completely pointless, but also resulted in a generic response to all pupils. I was left with the feeling that if you don’t learn a language or make it to university then you’re not going to be successful. Any thoughts of being a professional sportsman were met with laughter followed by “that won’t happen”. Sadly my career aspirations of being a professional footballer were hindered, based on sheer lack of ability; however it just so happened that several of my friends did make it in successful sports careers and still do to this day. It certainly goes without saying that I never had any direct interaction with local businesses. Would this have enabled me to completely map out my career aspirations? No... Would it have helped me to understand that “business people” are normal, and would I have remembered their advice...? Absolutely!
I was lucky enough to be asked by a couple of local schools to support their career’s week, offering mock interview and feedback sessions followed by a motivational speech to the school about my own personal career. It also involved providing advice and guidance as to what businesses are looking for when recruiting for their business. It was evident immediately that “Careers Advice” in schools has improved dramatically over the years where teachers and support staff are hugely invested in pupil development, however they need support from local business who then become vital partners in helping young people make a successful transition to work. In doing so they generate a positive societal benefit too. Recent FBS reports suggest that pupils who have encountered four or more employers in their school lives increased their likelihood of later being in employment, education or training by 20 per cent.
Direct interaction with pupils in school and college environments helps them and businesses to evaluate any preconceptions they may have. Whether that be simply to understand and get to know different generations but also what’s important to them. The FBS Education and skills survey found that 66 per cent of businesses agreed such initiatives would have a positive effect on their perception of the skills and aspirations of young people.
There are numerous reasons why businesses should support and build relationships with their local schools... So why aren’t more of us doing it?
Benefits and rewards;
- Help young people prepare for their future working lives
- Build strong relationships with schools and colleges
- Support the talent pool in your area
- Participating builds understanding of the environment your future talent is coming from and the challenges they face
- Becoming a volunteer can support staff to move from middle to senior management, developing their strategic and business planning skills
- Taking part in inspirational work activities and programmes can support your junior staff to build presentation, communication and leadership skills
For me it certainly was the most rewarding project I have been involved in for a long time. Some of the pupils I have met over the past year have completely blown me away with their professionalism and enthusiasm to listen and learn. They just need more businesses like us to help and support them in what must be a stressful time. If this blog encourages just one more business to participate with local schools and colleges I will see this as a huge success.