Southwark students meet employers volunteering to make them Career Ready

Thirty Southwark sixth form students and their parents met with volunteers from employers in the borough, and across the Capital, for the first time on Tuesday 1 November as they officially launched the new Career Ready programme. The students, from St Michael’s Catholic College, Bacon’s College and City of London Academy, are the first group to take part in the employer-led careers programme, as part of the new borough-based cluster.

The launch event brought together the young people who have been selected for the programme with the employers who will be volunteering as mentors, offering masterclasses and workplace visits and even providing paid internships – all of which aim to prepare the students for their future careers. 

Councillor Evelyn Akoto, Deputy Cabinet Member for Young People and Careers at Southwark Council, welcomed guests. She said: “It is important that young people are given the opportunity to experience the world of work so that they are not daunted in pursuing their career goals. This programme is crucial in giving our young people aspirational goals and the necessary experience to fulfil their potential. Offering these opportunities is also invaluable for the world of businesses so that they can recruit top candidates in the future who are equipped with the key skills and attitudes needed in work.”

The event was held at St Michael’s Catholic College. Assistant Principal and Head of Programme at St. Michael's, Gary Smith, said: “This is an exciting moment for our students and we’re looking forward to hosting other young people from across the borough as we kick off the programme. Having the chance to work directly with real employers not only gives these students a priceless insight into industry but will also do much more – it will help to increase their confidence interacting with successful role models and most importantly show them that that world is for people like them as well.

“It’s fantastic to have their parents join us for this launch event so they can understand more about the programme but also meet the employers who will be supporting their children and hear directly from them about the types of job opportunities that are available.”

International law firm, Holman Fenwick Willan, supports the Career Ready programme in Southwark. Kathryn Hull, Corporate Responsibility Manager, said: “I first began working with Career Ready in a previous role, eight years ago. It is a programme I feel extremely passionate about and I am delighted to still be able to support it. Career Ready provides a structured and highly impactful way for companies like Holman Fenwick Willan to reach out to young people – as well as a rewarding way for our staff to engage with the next generation and often develop their own skills at the same time. The Southwark Cluster is an exciting opportunity for a number of businesses, including Holman Fenwick Willan, Citi and British Land, and Southwark Council to work in collaboration to give young people a great start to their future careers. As a group we are working hard to ensure the Career Ready programme changes lives.”

Marcus Huntley, Head of School, City of London Academy (Southwark): "We are really pleased to be part of the Career Ready Programme. It is extremely important that not only are the aspirations of our students raised, but that they also leave school with the employability skills and experiences that will make a significant difference to their potential careers. We are also grateful to be working in such close partnership with employers and businesses, as well as building links between other schools in Southwark. We are certain that the opportunities provided through the Career Ready programme will make a real difference to the confidence, employability and achievement of our students."

Suzie Glasson, Career Ready Coordinator at Bacon's College, said: "As a school we are really excited about being part of such great programme and to be the first group to take part in the employer-led careers programme, as part of the new borough-based cluster.  It was lovely to see the parents and students excited about Career Ready Programme and how it will inspire them to achieve great things and give them the key skills to be a success.  We have a wonderful board that will be supporting the students and the programme over the years.  This is such an exciting time for us and the students."

Caroline Kandaya-Breakfast, Career Ready Regional Manager for London and the South East, said: “Parents and carers play a vital role in supporting their children to make the crucial decisions about their next steps after school or college and we know they often have a significant influence on those choices. Just as we do with our young people, we want parents to have all the information they need about the various different paths available after school – from university to apprenticeships and straight into full-time employment – so that they can help ensure their child picks the best route for them. Inviting parents to be part of our launch in Southwark is a great way to help them support their child, both through the programme and on to the next stage.”