One of the key strands of North East England Chamber’s Stronger North East campaign is forging closer links between business and education, to ensure young people have the best careers guidance to set them on their right employment path.
A workshop, held at Middlesbrough AFC’s Riverside ground, organised by the Chamber and Tees Valley Combined Authority, shared successful examples where companies had supported schools and colleges with really positive results.
Paul Carbert, Chamber policy adviser said: “Members tell us that improving careers advice in schools is a priority, and we can help with this by bringing member schools and businesses together at our Linking Business with Education events.”
Kelly Dillon from TVCA outlined the Tees Valley Careers service, one of only 20 hubs nationally. It is working with 35 secondary schools to increase the pupils’ knowledge of business and to increase the number of workplace visits across the area. She said if there are four contacts with employers during a young person’s time at school they are far less likely to become NEET (Not In Employment Education or Training).
On behalf of the Chamber Paul Carbert was keen to emphasise the need for young people to realise the great reasons to build their careers in the North East rather than assume they have to leave the region to get a good job.
One of the case studies of successful partnership working was set out by engineering company Jacobs and Endeavour Law who have developed an aptly named ‘Big Project’ with Carmel Academy, Darlington.
These businesses set a challenge for the pupils around a big question they had to solve, with 10 teams of up to 10 young people taking part. There were presentations at each stage to give feedback on the students’ work.
Mike Bowen from Jacobs and Louise Gilbey from Endeavour Law were clear that the benefits weren’t just for the school students but also their own businesses. They were able to give their colleagues learning opportunities in mentoring and presentation skills. The project also raised brand awareness of their firms and was a great talent scouting exercise.
County Durham-based Esh Group has a long-standing education and employer programme called Building My Skills where hundreds of North East businesses and Chamber members regularly go into schools to talk about the world of work. Victoria McCormick, Social Value Coordinator at Esh Group,explained that every pupil who completes the year-long programme is guaranteed a formal interview with an employer at the Mock Interview day in June.
There was also a presentation from Emma Beauchamp, a degree apprentice from Gestamp Tallent, who talked about her route from school to working for one of the region’s largest automotive manufacturers. Emma also represents the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, which facilitates careers talks in schools delivered by current and former apprentices.