Following on from Scantec’s support of Youth Skills Day, which focus’ on ‘Learning to learn for life and work’ we are keen to work with the next generation of STEM students, and the opportunity to support, develop and give back to the local community.
At Scantec we are lucky to have relationships with a number of schools and colleges, enabling us to have a unique opportunity to reach out and support students by helping improve their interview skills, knowledge of the STEM industries, and the career opportunities available.
If you cast your mind back to your school days, do you remember having any lessons that concentrated on teaching you what to do in an interview, or even how to apply for a job?
Until fairly recently, there hasn’t been a huge emphasis on preparing school leavers for the working world, instead focusing mainly on academic results.
No doubt good grades can get us so far, after all, having the knowledge to do your job is extremely important. But looking back at my own experience I feel somewhat deflated when considering the advice and guidance that I was given, prior to joining the world of employment.
If, like me, the career’s advice you received left you with the impression, that if you didn’t qualify for sixth form and go on to make it to university, then you were not going to be successful, and could only expect to achieve a mediocre career, at best.
(For my part, any thoughts I had of being a professional sportsman were met with derisive laughter, followed by words to the effect of, “that won’t happen!” Sadly my career aspirations of being a professional footballer were hindered based on my sheer lack of ability! However, it just so happened that several of my friends did go on to have successful sports careers and still do to this day... meaning sometimes it does happen!!)
It certainly goes without saying that I never had any direct interaction with local businesses, and I ask myself, had I done so, would this have enabled me to completely map out my career aspirations? Probably not. Would it have helped me to understand that “business people” are normal, and would I have remembered their advice...? Absolutely!
Over the past couple of years I have been lucky enough to be involved with local schools to support their Career’s Week. As a local business, we embrace the opportunity to support students, by offering mock interview and feedback sessions, followed by motivational speeches to the pupils about my own personal career path. Explaining that it’s ok not to be clear on your career aspirations, and that careers are achieved in various ways, but that qualifications and behaviours are equally important, providing the base on which a successful career can be achieved.
I received various feedback and questioning around the synergy of STEM and careers opportunities in the Technical Engineering sector, providing simplified understanding of “Job Titles” and the roles individuals perform, was hugely beneficial for all students.
It was immediately evident to me that today’s “Careers Advice” in schools has improved dramatically over the years, with teachers and support staff being hugely invested in pupil development. However, in order to do this successfully, schools and colleges need support from local businesses who in turn become vital partners in helping young people make a successful transition into work.
This interaction has the additional benefit of generating a positive societal benefit too. For example, reports published by FBS 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 both students and businesses to evaluate any preconceptions they may have of each other. 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 also found that 66 per cent of businesses agreed that such initiatives would have a positive effect on their perception of the skills and aspirations of young people.
Through offering our support to schools and colleges, there are benefits for all involved:
- Helping young people prepare for their future working lives
- Enabling employers to build strong relationships with schools and colleges
- Supporting the development of the talent pool in your area
- Building an understanding of the challenges that our future talent face when transitioning
- 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 personally, it certainly was the most rewarding project I have been involved in for a long time. Some of the pupils I 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 ours to help and support them to go on and achieve their full potential in the world of work.
I hope this blog encourages you to ask your local school or college if they hold Careers Days and together we can inspire tomorrow’s employees to take their first steps into the world of business.