Ensuring young people have the clearest idea of what employment opportunities are available on their doorstep is an essential aspect of effective Careers provision. Due to obvious time constrictions and capacity issues, it is easy to take a scattergun approach when identifying which businesses you can and want to work with. However, taking the time to understand the main business sectors in your area can pay dividends in the long run.
Like with all the things we try and help with, the model and approach below is just one way to tackle Benchmark 3. However, we have found that using this approach or having something similar in place can really support the planning and implementation of Benchmarks 4, 5 and 6.
Start big: identifying your local employment sectors
If you sat and thought about which local businesses your school could engage with, you may come up with a rather narrow group. This is simply because not all of us have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the myriad employers that sit in your local community. As such, in order to provide your young people with a more full range we need to dig a little deeper. There several places that are good to go to for this information, your local Chamber of Commerce for instance. Another excellent place is your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Below is look at the Dorset LEP Local Industrial strategy and how it can be split into the local key employment sectors.
Drilling down: what sectors and businesses to work with
Once you have investigated what your local sectors are, be they established, growing or ones that are in need of more support, you can then start to work on the next focus – forming partnerships. This approach does require some significant time investment but the payoff can be significant. As an example, we have identified five sectors and matched five different employers within the Bournemouth area.
Making the connection: where the partnership starts
Once you have identified which business you want to work with you now need to form the partnership. Each large organisation will have someone who has responsibility for the corporate social outreach, going old school and making some calls to find out is the best approach. You can have a good nose around the website but often sites just provide generic information about the company.
Before arranging partnership meetings you should try and make a wish list of what you would like support with:
- Interview practice
- Work experience/experiences of the workplace
- Speaking engagements
- Careers fayre
- Special projects – product design/marketing/PR
- Sponsorship of prizes or events
Don’t forget this is a two way street, you should be telling them what benefits could come their way as well. Telling them that their company name or logo will feature on schools letterhead, website and other prominent places. They will feature in social media posts and newsletters sent home.
Cultivating a partnership and relationship takes time and like any relationship it takes work and compromise. These businesses might not always be able to support your work but by having these partnerships in place, you are making a direct and consistent link to Career and LMI for young people and parents.