Businesses help upskill pupils for the world of work

March 23, 2017 4:29 pm

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Ashfield and Mansfield businesses are embracing a project in local schools: Enterprising Schools.  Basically, this helps teenagers think ambitiously about what they would like out of life and the world of work.   This programme is funded by Ashfield and Mansfield District Councils.  It is being delivered in partnership with ideas4careers, a Nottinghamshire-based career development consultancy. 

Skills deficit

The scheme, for secondary schools across Ashfield and Mansfield, helps young people develop skills employers are seeking in young people.  Many local employers have already become involved in this valuable project, as part of a number of initiatives helping to fill a chronic skills gap.  As a result of this local skills deficit, local businesses often have to import higher skilled workers.

Mansfield District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration is Cllr Dave Saunders.  He said: “Economic conditions in this area are undoubtedly a key challenge.  Indeed we have generations of unemployment affecting families and local communities.  And this area suffers significantly from an imbalance of low skills and low wages.  The higher skilled, higher paying jobs therefore often go to workers from outlying areas.

“Unless we tackle this local skills shortage, this situation is only likely to get worse.  Nowadays, occupations and skills needs are changing.  Early predictions for the next decade highlight a rise in jobs requiring intermediate to high level qualifications.  At the same time, the demand for low skilled jobs is in decline.  This is a situation likely to still be around in the long-term.”

Attainment levels

Currently 56.3% of pupils at Ashfield and Mansfield schools achieve grades A* to C in both GSCE maths and English.  This is lower than both the Nottinghamshire average of 65.9% and the national average of 63%.

Cllr Saunders explained: “Getting the right qualifications is only one aspect of employability. The schools are already working hard to improve exam results.  However, there are many other skills employers are looking for which young people also need to be aware of.  These include: teamworking, leadership, communication, being creative and using initiative and prioritising or juggling workloads.

“We want to support schools helping young people plan and prepare, maximising their chances of achieving successful and rewarding futures.  Therefore it’s important to learn what possibilities are out there.  In addition, they need to be aware of some of the equally important ‘softer skills’ needed in the workplace.”

What is Enterprising Schools?

Enterprising Schools works with young people in years nine to eleven in schools.  Moreover, the project plans to work with 1,600 pupils at up to 14 schools over the next three years.  The programme is usually run over three days, which can be spread across the school year.

The scheme provides problem-solving work-related learning opportunities and involves employers.  These local employers act as business mentors or role models to inspire these young people. The scheme also aims to foster more entrepreneurial spirit among young people.  Hopefully this could lead to some starting their own businesses in the area.

All Saints

Many local business owners have already become involved in Enterprising Schools.  Moreover, hundreds of students have the opportunity to take part in the programme.  Among those which have signed up to the scheme is All Saints’ Catholic Academy in Mansfield.

Assistant Head Teacher, Laura Johnson, said: “It’s really important that students are connected to industry and real world career choices.  And that they see other people from outside school, reinforcing the importance of teamwork, initiative and deadlines.”

Student Ross Foulkes took part in the day.  He said his ambition was to get a job that “earns a lot of money”.  He added: “Today we have learned how to manage our time like we’d have to if we had a job.”

Also taking part was Gretel Bennett.  She added: “I want to go into the Army or the Navy so it’s been really good.  We have learnt both how to hit a deadline and about teamwork.”

Leading the session was Richard Smith, of ideas4careers, who is also a local businessman. He said: “We help students to improve their employability skills so they can get the best job they can locally.  This was a team-based exercise, using a bit of fun and The Apprentice competition.  The students work together in different roles and they only have 30 minutes.  So it gives them an idea of deadlines too.”

Martin Wells, Managing Director of a local engineering company, was one of the local employers  taking part in the day.  He explained: “What we’re doing is seeing if pupils stick to their allocated roles.  And if they understand how to deliver the product in the right way.  The employer on each table marks the students on how well they have done and then feeds that back to them.”

More information

Enterprising Schools usually covers three days, as follows:

Day 1 – Exploring Future Career Options

This helps young people start planning a career by giving them an insight into different business sectors and industries. Particular focus is given to those that are growing, thereby influencing the future labour market.

Day 2 – Enhancing Skills

Pupils work with employers on a range of work-related activities to develop their employability skills.  These skills include: communication, using initiative, presenting an idea, the importance of good customer service, working as part of a team, identifying and solving problems, managing time and prioritising, being well organised, creativity and developing new ideas, working independently and leadership qualities.

Day 3 – Impressing an Employer

This helps young people understand how to make applications stand out.  And to recognise their qualities and skills and be able to talk about themselves positively to a potential employer.

Want to get involved?

Any businesses interested in working on the programme should contact Ella O’Connor on 01623 463327.  Employers can volunteer their help for as many or as few days as they want.  You can find out more about other opportunities to work with schools here.

 

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