Guest Blog

Business & Education: The Employability of Young People in a Time of Government Cuts – Guest Blog Knowledge Peers September 2012
In a time of government cuts to careers guidance and enterprise, and the removal of statutory work experience, it is vital that businesses get involved in schools and invest in the future. With youth unemployment reaching record highs, one topic has been hotly debated in recent times: Are young people employable and ready for the world of work?

What is becoming apparent is the need for students to develop real employability skills and be ready for the world of work in an ever changing world.  In this blog I am going to address employability, focussing on my own experience as school Business Champion at Malet Lambert School, and the journey that our school has been on.  Particularly, I will look at how can we best develop employability in a school curriculum and explain what this means to students.

My role within school is heavily involved in employer partnerships, enterprise, and providing students with employability opportunities.  I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with businesses on a regular basis about how they can support our students in their curriculum.

Effective employability opportunities and programmes for young people require us to work in partnership. The Humber Education Business Partnership provides invaluable opportunities to engage with business and link business with education.  The business community in Hull is first class – the level of support and time the community is prepared to dedicate is fantastic.  It is certainly a great place to work and build partnerships.  With this in mind I have recently worked with the Humber Education Business Partnership, Hull Esteem LEP and the Sewell Group to develop an employability charter. The concept of a charter developed after conversations about how to improve young people’s employability.  This employability charter in Hull is all about businesses working with schools to find a common language for employability that can be shared with students. It consists of key attributes, skills and knowledge that students should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace – to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider economy.  After much conversation and deliberation we decided that the following skills are absolutely key:

1)       Self-Management

2)       Teamwork

3)       Business and Customer Awareness

4)       Problem Solving

5)       Communication and literacy

6)       Application of numeracy

7)       Application of information technology

Essentially the Charter agrees the ways in which businesses can work together with students, teachers, and tutors to create a common understanding of the skills, language and expectations of Hull’s young people as they enter the world of work.  It has also established a framework for businesses to support schools in the curriculum.  At Malet Lambert School we plan activities with employers based on these essential skills.  Last year we piloted local businesses working within curriculum areas including Maths, English, Law and Technology, with the teachers working alongside business experts to enhance and bring work related learning into the classroom.  We are currently in the process of evaluating the outcome of this activity with a view to extending it to other curriculum areas within the school.  We also believe in taking students to see employers and to attend business events.  The main aim of our employability programme is for students to develop vital skills and experience the working environment.

We recently achieved the Institute of Education Business Excellence Business Ready standard.  This standard assesses and recognises the quality of schools’ involvement in developing young people’s employability.  This has formed an essential part of enabling our school to move on and improve our employability offering to students.  Businesses can also apply to be education ready, assessing their involvement in developing young people’s employability.

Can business and education work together?  Are these two worlds so different?  Students get so much from learning about the world of work from an employer.  I will never forget the 10 minute conversation one of our Year 11 students had with an architect that changed his outlook completely.  We have some businesses that give support regularly, and others who give it maybe once in a year.  So, I offer a challenge; whether you can give a day, a week or more regular support – get involved! The fact that the government is making cuts to careers guidance and enterprise in schools, and has removed statutory work experience, means it is all the more imperative that businesses work with students now to create a brighter business future.

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