On 6th March, businesses and schools came together at our Showcase Event where Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher, Combined Authority Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, spoke about the importance of business led career activities in schools. The Enterprise Adviser Network was showcased by businesses and schools which have been matched together to develop practical career plans that give students multiple opportunities to learn about the workplace. Speakers included Mike Bowen of Jacobs who talked about the work they are doing on “The Big Project” with Carmel College, as well as Outwood Bishopsgarth School and Cubic, Trinity Catholic College and Inspiron Learning and Catcote School and J&B Recycling who all shared their successful examples of schools and businesses working collaboratively.
Copies of the all the presentations can be found below:
The event was a huge success and a great opportunity to gain some feedback on what is working well, what the challenges are for businesses and schools in terms of working together and how Tees Valley Combined Authority can support businesses and schools to overcome these challenges.
Thank you for all the feedback we have received – the main points are summarised below.
What’s working well?
- Local businesses are proactively approaching schools and there are a variety of businesses, large and small, that are engaged.
- Businesses have seen change in school engagement, there are more shout outs which they think work well.
- Hub meetings and networking opportunities.
- The creation of targeted on going relationships developed by TVCA, such as the Enterprise Adviser Network – ‘Businesses would not get involved if it wasn’t for TVCA’.
What are the biggest challenges to overcome for businesses to engage with schools?
- Prior notice of events is important as they are often unable to attend due to short notice – require at least 1 month.
- Time constraints on businesses – it is easier for smaller businesses to commit to 1-2 hours rather than a full day event.
- Perceived barriers such as DBS checks.
- Buy-in from senior management is crucial – it’s usually one person that champions it.
- Gatsby Benchmarks to become a ‘must’ not a ‘should’.
- The amount of learners per activity has to be worth the return on investment.
- More opportunities for teachers to engage with business – schools need to know how to utilise the business relationship and businesses need to manage school expectations.
What are the biggest challenges for school to gain business engagement?
- Being able to get in touch with the right person in the business and information on what businesses can offer.
- Businesses may have had previous bad experiences which put them off – ‘one bad experience knocks their confidence in work experience’.
- Misunderstanding on both sides about Health and Safety and insurances needed etc.
- Being able to bring students out of school and assessing the benefits of taking students out of school, it has to be worthwhile.
- Experiences of the world of work (Benchmark 6).
- Travel and costs of releasing a teacher to be out of school.
- SEND schools prefer different types of events to mainstream (smaller, internally).
How can TVCA support businesses and schools to overcome these challenges?
- Funding transport and costs of supply teachers so the schools have staff to go to events with students.
- Be a main point of contact between business and school to aid better communication.
- The creation of a central database – apprenticeship vacancies, company offers and work experience opportunities and ‘employer portal’.
- Organise and deliver more events for businesses and teachers to network and improve communications between the two.
- Encourage more companies to engage where skills shortages exist.
- Ensure schools get their requests in early and that there’s no conflict with other provider activities.
- Enterprise Advisor role needs better clarification and explanation to schools and advisors, more inductions, more ideas at sharing best practice.
- Improve continuity of information – invites not always received by all.
- Promote jobs on Tees Valley Careers.com
Hopefully the event inspired both schools and businesses to work together on careers delivery and provided a good opportunity to network.