Greater engagement between schools, colleges and local employers is at the heart of the Leeds Manufacturing Festival and its aim of promoting the opportunities that careers in the sector present for future generations. But many employers say they find it difficult to get buy-in from schools in their area. Although schools are now assessed on linking the curriculum to careers, work and workplace experience, finding the right person to speak to and make things happen when you approach a school or college can be hard.
But it doesn’t have to be that way and the enterprise adviser network, run by West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s schools partnership team has been set up precisely to make it easier for employers and their employees to get involved with careers advice and education in schools.
Tawanda Mukombiwa, an enterprise coordinator working for the schools partnership team said: “Working with a local school or college, enterprise advisers can help bridge the gap between the world of work and education, working with careers leaders and, in some cases, the senior leadership team of a school or college to create opportunities for young people.”
An enterprise adviser can come from any industry sector or professional background, whether it’s someone who is employed, self-employed or recently employed. They need to be ready to volunteer their time to help develop careers education and advice in local schools and colleges.
“This could be by supporting the school or college’s senior leadership team to develop and evaluate their plan for careers advice and education, providing an employer’s perspective and knowledge of local labour markets or careers pathways and opportunities in particular industries,” Tawanda explained.
“It might involve doing a careers talk to particular student groups, bringing other members of your team to a careers fair, arranging work experience placements or workplace visits.”
Andy Quayle, director of operations at Leeds engineering firm LBBC, explained why he became involved in the enterprise adviser network, working with nearby Pudsey Grammar School.
“I was an apprentice engineer myself and have had a wonderful career, so I wanted to encourage young people to go into engineering. It gave me an opportunity to meet young people and open their eyes to the careers available to them.”
“It’s about giving something back to the local community but it also gives you the chance to meet young people and steer them in the direction of your business.”
As an enterprise adviser, activities Andy has typically been involved in include careers fairs and helping with interview practice for students. “It was a real eye-opener,” says Andy. “You might expect young people not to know much about your industry or what they want to do but that wasn’t the case.”
Colleagues Jim Alexander and Adam Benn, both QSHE and operations managers at the Stanningley-based firm, have now signed up as enterprise advisers.
Maddy Pennock, who joined LBBC as an apprentice design engineer from Pudsey Grammar, also wants to get involved with the enterprise adviser network once she completes her apprenticeship to encourage more young girls to consider engineering careers.
“Maddy didn’t really know what she wanted to do when she left school but she’s gone on to become an absolute star and a great asset to LBBC,” said Andy.
Since joining LBBC, Maddy has gone on to win the award for ‘Apprentice of the Year’ with apprenticeship training provider Appris and won the ‘Rising Star’ award at this year’s Leeds Manufacturing Festival awards.