What’s the future of employer engagement with schools and colleges?

Mar 22, 2022 | Apprentices & school leaver

The Careers and Enterprise Company explains how employers can get involved with a new standard for school and college engagement best practice.

Having worked with business from all corners of the country and all sectors and sizes, it’s clear that the appetite for building the next generation of talent and giving back to our communities has never been stronger.

However, that goodwill can easily be derailed without a clear roadmap. How do I connect with schools? What should I be doing? What health and safety requirements are there? Have I got anything valuable to share?

Through the work of our national network and all the partners that work with us, progress is being made to systemically break down these barriers.

Young people are getting increasing numbers of encounters with employers – data shows that despite the pandemic 57% of schools and 77% of colleges provided opportunities for most of their students to engage with employers last year.

On top of this, employers are starting to see more work-ready young people joining the labour market too. For the first time, young people are as informed about apprenticeships as they are higher education pathways, and young people are starting to tell us what they believe their skills are improving. Our latest data from over 15,000 students demonstrate just how much progress has been made.


How employers come to together to improve support for young people

But we’re just getting started. Our community of leading employers who are supporting careers education in every region of the country (through Career Hubs) are starting to share best practice with each other, sharing resources, sharing challenges and collectively problem-solving. It’s this collaboration and drive for continuous improvement that we want to make available to all businesses.

All businesses are asking themselves similar questions – how do I build a strong talent pipeline? How do I increase the diversity in my workforce? How do I best deliver against our social value commitments?

There are brilliant pockets of practice around the country. Organisations are being innovative to cut through the noise, responsive to adapt to the pandemic (and our ever-changing world) and inclusive to ensure every young person is being reached.

And it’s these practices that are having a tangible impact on reaching business objectives that we’ve set our sights on now.


Developing a new standard for employer best practice in careers education

Building on the brilliant work of the Gatsby benchmarks and the Skills Builder frameworks, it’s now time to take employer outreach to the next level.

We are on a mission to codify best practice so all businesses can learn from it – whether you’re a seasoned professional wanting to sense-check your current programmes and approach or an employer entirely new to engaging with education – the framework we are developing will provide a clear roadmap of what leads to positive outcomes for business and young people.

Our ambition is to not only articulate that best practice but crowdsource, develop and share the practical tools and templates you need to deliver it, together with signposting to expert organisations who can support you with that delivery.

Crucially, the framework will neither be a tick box exercise nor an onerous audit. The framework will be shared with organisations for self-assessment purposes – our main aim is to support you to develop and continuously improve your approach. And we will learn together. As evidence continues to emerge and we collectively get smarter, the framework will evolve.

This will become the foundation for all employer engagement with secondary schools and colleges.

We are currently consulting with businesses (from sole trader to large multi-national) to develop this framework. We’d love to hear any evidence you have on what has worked – anecdotal or statistical.

If you were starting again from scratch, what would be the core elements you’d include in your strategy? Who have you worked with that’s been brilliant? What approaches created a step change in impact?

We’d love to hear from you: please email ahiggins@careersandenterprise.co.uk


The Careers and Enterprise Company talked about the framework and the future of employer engagement with schools and colleges at the ISE’s apprenticeship conference

Read more about engaging with schools and colleges

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