A soundbite from our Let's Do Business speakers in Leeds

Chanai Edmeade, Career Ready graduate, Leeds East Academy

“I completed the Career Ready programme at Leeds East Academy about two years ago. The programme gave me a lot of different opportunities, from going to conferences to networking with professionals and I was also able to complete an internship with my mentor at the NHS Leadership Academy.

“It was overwhelming at first - meeting lots of smartly dressed people – but by completing tasks of my own and working with a range of different departments I was transformed from the shy, vulnerable girl at the back of the class room to being confident and outgoing. If I could leave you with one message from my experience it would be: Great things never come from comfort zones – never be the one to play it safe.”

Anne Spackman, Chief Executive, Career Ready

“Careers guidance has become an increasingly important area for Ofsted, so much so that  we have updated our slides on this topic three times in the last 12 months.

“Just this week the Department for Education announced that they will make it a law that schools must give access to colleges and apprenticeship providers to talk about alternative options to university with the key aim being  to ensure Technical and Professional Education, or TPE, is no longer seen as second best to academic routes.”

Paul Donlon, Career Ready Coordinator, Garforth Academy

“We’ve been running Career Ready for six years now – we’ve had roughly 80 students undertake paid internships in that time and have developed links with about 100 different businesses. For my department, it’s a great way to encourage more students to consider studying ICT or computing but it also benefits the whole sixth form as they get access to external speakers who can share real work experiences and support them to write their CVs and develop interview skills.

“In my experience, the employers also benefit from being involved as they have a chance to advertise opportunities to our students and mould the workforce for the future.”

Gary Gascoigne, Senior Programme and Engagement Manager in IT, Asda

“At Asda we have a comprehensive engagement programme and we’ve done a lot of work over recent years, which really started with getting involved with Career Ready at Garforth Academy. In addition to offering mentoring and workplace visits, we’ve also established a STEM programme, in which we’ve given young people the chance to design pizza packaging and mobile applications.

“For me personally, it’s an opportunity to do something outside of my work and get to mentor young people who are a great source of inspiration – it’s a real buzz to work with them. For the company, it’s led to us creating our first IT apprenticeship scheme at Asda House and that in turn has spurred other teams to follow us.”

Ben Watkins, Career Ready student, Garforth Academy

“Through Career Ready I was given the opportunity to complete a six week internship with Lloyds Banking Group. I was able to work with a variety of different people and work on independent projects and research as well as shadowing business managers. Before I completed my internship I was quite set on studying marketing and was considering university. Now though, I’m really hoping to go back to Lloyds Banking Group and take up an apprenticeship with them. I’ve stayed in touch with my manager from the internship and he’s helping me with the application.”

Matthew Williamson, Head of Department, DeLacy Academy

“I’ve been the Career Ready Coordinator for about two to three years and in my experience employer engagement is really important. When we first started we put in a lot of leg work, getting out into the local community to speak to local businesses. But we also tapped into the existing networks in the school – asking parents and teachers to speak to their own friends and families to get other industries involved.

“Our Local Advisory Board is fantastic. We meet roughly every term and it gives us a chance to share what’s been going on at the school and to hear about opportunities in the businesses. For our students, many of whom don’t want to leave the area after school, it’s vital to have an understanding of the roles that will be available to them.”

Jenny Wildman, Assistant Principal, DeLacy Academy

“One of the perils of being a teacher is that many young people don't imagine you in any other role. They don't see you as a parent or a friend - or as a former nurse, insurance salesman or army officer. They don't always believe what we say about the world of work. One of the key reasons employer engagement is so crucial is because students like to hear directly from those engaged in modern business."

Emily Wilkinson, Career Ready student, St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy

“Without my mentor there’s no way I could have stood up here in front of all of you. The programme also gives you the opportunity to access work experience you’d never normally get in school. My internship was with a healthcare organisation, Locala, which was fantastic as I want to pursue a career in midwifery. The experience has given me key skills and confidence but it has also given me something to put on my personal statement for university, which will hopefully make my application stand out.”

Carolyn Savage, Head of Partnerships, Skills Funding Agency

“The National Careers Service provides a free, impartial and confidential careers advice service, including a phone advice line and webchat. We can answer questions from what subjects to study for specific careers to how to get an apprenticeship. We also have a skills health check tool to help young people identify what they’re really good at.

“The Skills Funding Agency also funds the National Apprenticeships Service and this is an important area of growth, with the government committing to 3 million more apprenticeships in this parliament. There is lots of support available for both schools and employers and we are particularly developing higher and degree level apprenticeships. For more information we have a free schools pack, a dedicated employer helpline and grants available for smaller employers taking on a young person for the first time.”

Johanne Gilroy, Partnership Coordinator - Leeds City Region, Inspiring Yorkshire and the Humber

“Our role is to be impartial brokers who support employers and schools to work together to help inspire young people about their future career choices. We have developed an online portal which is a first port of call for considering engagement. On there you can find employer videos on different types of engagement activity, examples of what has already been done, organisations that can help, comprehensive regional and local labour market information, as well as, links to useful resources, newsletters, websites and initiatives.”

“I would encourage employers and schools to register their interest so that we can support you to work together.”

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