Business people, entrepreneurs, and professionals are being encouraged to volunteer some of their time to help improve career opportunities for young people living in the West of England.
The West of England Combined Authority is launching a campaign during National Careers Week, March 4 – 9, to recruit more Enterprise Advisers.
Young adults who recall four or more encounters with employers while at school are likely to earn around 18 per cent more during their career than their peers who did not have the same opportunities. They are also 86 per cent less likely to become what is known as NEETs (not in employment, education or training).
The Enterprise Adviser Network, managed by the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, aims to ensure school leavers are ready for the world of work. There are currently 48 Enterprise Advisers linked with schools across Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire but more are needed and a campaign is being launched during National Careers Week – March 4 – 9.
Training is provided and it is a great way to give something back to the community while also supporting your own professional development and raising awareness of career opportunities with potential employees. Volunteering takes no more than six hours a month.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “Through working with our schools and colleges, Enterprise Advisers can make a big impact on young people’s lives. We are committed to giving young people every opportunity to secure employment, and our Enterprise Advisers are an important part of making this happen.”
Business leaders already involved say they get huge reward from volunteering:
Victoria Coxen, from Bath, is self-employed, providing coaching and consulting in change and transformation to global clients. She has been an Enterprise Advisor for two years, supporting Ralph Allen School. “I have worked with the key people at Ralph Allen to really understand their starting point and resources, and used my skills to help them formulate a career strategy and plan. Ralph Allen now has a signed-off strategy, with careers activities spanning all year groups; the school has carried out market research with students and parents on desirable careers activities, grown relationships with employers and the community and modernised work experience placements. The careers team and students have benefitted from the thorough approach and we have had fun along the way too.”
Samantha Lee, Head of HR at Bond Dickenson, said: “Working with Bradley Stoke School has been a way for me to utilize and develop my leadership skills in a new environment as well as support the school with knowledge of the local labour market.”
Finance Director Steve Morris, who is linked with Mangotsfield School, said: “I was interested in taking the opportunity to support a school to increase employer engagement with its students. As an employer myself, I am conscious of the importance for young people of having direct involvement and contact with the world of work.”
Voluntary sector consultant Sibusiso Tshabalala joined the Enterprise Adviser Network to build the confidence of young people to take up science and technology subjects – improving their opportunities to gain access to future careers and reducing the skills gap in the local labour market. He says it has also been a great way to network and meet other industry leaders whilst improving his own understanding of the educational and business landscape. Sibusiso, the director for Cognitive Paths, said: “It’s clear to me that schools want more effective support and guidance to help them improve opportunities for all students. If you’re passionate about improving the landscape of education and employability for young people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire get in touch and find out how you can become an Enterprise Adviser.”
Paul Anslow, owner of Triangle Networks, works with Clevedon School. He believes there are many benefits that small businesses can gain by working closely with schools and getting to know the local emerging workforce. “As an Enterprise Adviser I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to school plans, experience the talent coming through schools and achieve real results for the next generation. It’s a chance to make a difference at a strategic level with local support from a growing network of advisers.”
Photo from the launch of the West of England Careers Hub.