Experience that works for all: Careers Wales pilots new employer engagement model
Pupils in Wales are set to benefit from a new platform that will link thousands of Welsh employers with schools, to facilitate ongoing opportunities for engagement with employers.
The national careers advice service is today launching a pilot ‘Education Business Exchange’ - a platform enabling employers to work directly with schools to provide bespoke experiences for pupils.
Employers that sign up to the exchange will provide detail on activities they can offer for pupils, and how far they are prepared to travel. Activities could include short or longer term work experience, taster sessions or outreach visits, guest talks at schools, as well as masterclasses or workshops.
Schools will then be able to search the online portal and select businesses based on bespoke criteria, including local authority area and type of activity, all in line with their own needs and preferences.
For example, a STEM teacher looking to bring to life classroom learning could search the portal for a local engineering company, or a media studies teacher could source a digital media company to bring to life classroom teaching.
The programme, which is being launched today at Bishop Hedley school in Merthyr along with GE Aviation, will be piloted initially in 8 local authority areas, with a target of 62 schools.
It is anticipated that, once rolled out, more than 13,000 employers will have registered for the Exchange, resulting in thousands of new, bespoke opportunities for pupils.
A UK-wide ‘Making the Grade’ report, commissioned by charity Education and Employers, demonstrates the value of employer engagement, finding that:
- 9 out of 10 secondary school teachers (93%) say that work experience and employer-related activities can help students to do better in exams.
- Teachers also said that one in five pupils (20%) in a typical year group today have positively benefitted from these activities in school.
- Successful work experience placements are believed to have the greatest impact on improving academic attainment, with over a quarter of teachers ranking it as their first choice. This is followed closely by employer-led sessions such as career events with employee volunteers.
- Over half of teachers felt academic achievement can be improved by helping students understand the relevance of education to employment, as well as exposing students to new role models through employer engagement.
Graham Bowd, Chief Executive at Careers Wales, said: “There has been much debate about the need for young people to engage with employers in Wales, and schools’ capacity to facilitate more interactions between pupils and employers, and the value of pupils interacting with businesses has never been clearer.
“The Education Business Exchange supports a broader engagement agenda. It will allow a range of quality opportunities, including giving smaller employers, who may not previously have been able to offer the traditional week’s work experience, an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to young people’s understanding about the world of work.
“Our Education Business Exchange is aiming to link the worlds of education and business and introduce businesses directly to pupils in schools. It will allow a wider range of engagement with learners by employers and in a more co-ordinated and meaningful way. “The portal will help plug any gaps in provision and has the potential to bring consistency in approach across Wales, embedding employer engagement throughout the curriculum in a streamlined and efficient way."
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said: “The Education Business Exchange will provide a vital link between schools and employers, opening up new and exciting opportunities for young people and employers alike. Bringing employers and young people together is vital to helping students understand the skills and experience they need to gain in order to move forward and succeed in the world of work.
I know many employers are eager to engage with their communities and provide opportunities for young people. As it is rolled out across Wales the Education Business Exchange has the potential to improve the links between schools and employers, for the benefit of all involved. I wish the project every success.”
Sarah Davies, GE Aviation Wales HR Coordinator said: "Working collaboratively with the education system is essential in building a strong and diverse workforce, and forms a talent pipeline into the business here at GE Aviation Wales.
Our aim is to combine skills sharing and curriculum support in order to inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We are working to bridge the UK STEM skills gap while fostering enthusiasm for jobs in these industries, and we believe that working together with schools is a key way to achieve this."