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Local business volunteer supports Bristol school to deliver virtual employer talks

Image credit: Sam Balye

Gillian Risdale is an Enterprise Advisor.  She is currently working with Bristol Brunel Academy to support their school’s career programme through her voluntary work with the careers and enterprise company and the local careers hub.

Case study

Bristol Brunel Academy is a mainstream school in Bristol and part of the Cabot Learning Federation. The school was forced to cancel work experience due to the on-going impact of the pandemic but were keen to offer their students something outside of their normal lessons.

The school’s Enterprise Adviser Gillian Risdale, who is the Business Growth Director for Highways at WSP, invited eight speakers from both within WSP and external,  to take part in a week long programme of employer engagement activities within curriculum subject areas.

Thirteen classes took part in the event and over 364 students were able to hear from employers about how the subject has supported them in their career journey, talk about pathways into the sector and offer some top tips that the students can use when planning for and applying for their next steps.

The event enabled both the students and staff to find out more about the different departmental areas at WSP ranging from: sustainability, engineering, traffic analysis, urban design, environmental impact studies, construction planning and public communications.

What impact did the employer engagement event have?

Employees from WSP explained their job roles and discussed with the students how the various occupations can be linked to the curriculum needs, with a strong focus on new technology, employability skills and the impacts of regional growth and climate change.

The event also helped to develop closer relationships with the school and assist them to deliver the Gatsby Benchmarks by embedding careers in the curriculum.


It was fantastic to be able to offer these students some insight into different jobs. They were keen to find out more and asked some great questions around career paths.

Gillian Risdale, the Enterprise Advisor

What the participants said:

Craig Jordan, the careers leader at Bristol Brunel Academy said: “At Bristol Brunel Academy we are trying to have a stronger link between careers and the curriculum and give our students some interaction with employers."

"I felt that the range of speakers enabled the students to gain an understanding how their subject fits in with the sector but more importantly that a career journey is not always linear. The emphasis placed on transferable skills gave the students an insight into the relevance of other subjects not directly linked to their career aspirations." 

Sadman Kabir, Graduate Engineer who presented to a class, said: “Delivering this presentation on my job to the class took me well outside of my comfort zone, however, I found the experience very good. We all learnt something today”

Gillian Risdale, the Enterprise Advisor said: “It was fantastic to be able to offer these students some insight into different jobs. They were keen to find out more and asked some great questions around career paths.”