Understanding why employers want to work with schools

Laura-Jane Rawlings

Inspire2Exceed is a specialist in Careers and Employability, providing workshops and programmes to pupils of all ages throughout the UK. Their programmes are uniquely co-developed with the business community ensuring that they support students with the most current and relevant information coming from the HR community and are mapped to the principals of IAG. They are working with the Martix model, meeting and exceeding schools statutory requirements.

Inspire2Exceed have developed a free website of resources for teaching staff, which includes lesson plans and best practice documents, showing their commitment to excellence in this area.

Inspire2Exceed have also founded the Youth Employment UK campaign, a national not for profit campaign developing a portal for young people, businesses and service providers to engage with and share information on opportunities and skills.

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Careers Education, Impartial Advice and Guidance, Work Related Learning and Enterprise are all subjects when done well require input from employers. Previously there has been a plethora of organisations who were placed to be that link between education and employers, EBP’s who could put on a Careers Fair, Dragons' Den or Work Experience programme to meet the needs of the school. Sadly, in many cases they have gone, and so too has the budget to buy in such services.

Schools are left with a choice: to continue to deliver an enriched programme of learning or to bring it down to the statutory basics and offer a very limited CE/IAG curriculum. In some schools it is the fear of the planning and employer engagement that leads this decision.

The gap between education and employment is not just one between student and work place, but also between education establishment and commercial organisation. I have seen some examples of exceptional partnership working between schools and their local business community where students are more engaged, more independent, teachers get the benefit of external support and the whole community benefits.

Understanding why employers want to work with schools is part way there to managing an excellent school and business partnership. There are a number of business benefits for an organisation, these include:

  • Meeting a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) need – some larger organisations will have a CSR policy of supporting their local community and working in schools is a very quick win for them

  • Developing a future workforce – businesses recognise that there is a skills gap and by supporting Careers Education or Work Related Learning events, it is a great way to engage, educate and inspire the future talent pool

  • PR – Simple good old fashioned marketing. If your school has a good local PR presence then by virtue a business can benefit by helping you out and getting in on your marketing prowess

  • Training – Developing the skills of their own staff by asking them to get involved in enterprise or work based projects can really help individuals grow

  • Recruitment – Some industries have a significant skills shortage and they understand that they need to inspire students about the opportunities within their sector. The Chilled Food Association is a prime example investing in www.chillededucation.org - a website offering free resources, information and lesson plans for schools. They will also come out and visit your school to talk about careers

  • It’s something different and it can be fun! Sometimes it really can be as simple as this. Once a business has supported something, you will often find that they are more than happy to help out again simply because they enjoyed it and it got them out of the office

There are many reasons why a business will say yes to getting involved in school programmes; however, the real secret is how to keep them involved and ensure a mutually beneficial and long-term relationship.

Schools should invest the time and resources to build up sustainable community links so that they can deliver exceptional learning opportunities and successful transition into the work place.

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