Best Practice

Inspiring the future

Careers guidance
A new initiative is aiming to give state pupils the same opportunities as their independent school peers when it comes to meeting employers and getting crucial career insights. Carol Glover explains

Inspiring the Future is a free initiative which will see employees from all sectors and professions volunteering to go into state secondary schools and colleges to talk about their jobs, careers, and the education routes they took. Nearly a third of all state secondary schools had already registered ahead of the launch, which took place on Monday (July 2).

A survey published alongside the launch shows that 98 per cent of classroom teachers in state schools think it important (80 per cent saying very important) for young people to meet employers to talk about jobs and careers, but many do not currently have the opportunity to do this. 

Inspiring the Future will help meet this need by connecting schools with volunteers from all walks of life, for free. The ambition is to recruit 100,000 volunteers, which equates to 30 to 40 people (covering a range of jobs/backgrounds) for each of our around 3,000 state secondary schools. 

Inspiring the Future uses an online platform, the first of its type, to connect volunteers to schools. It is a free service endorsed by government with cross-party support, the UK’s main teacher and employer organisations, and many leading employers. 

At Monday’s launch, scores of leading employers and small and medium enterprises took part in a careers networking event at a school in Tower Hamlets – one of England’s most disadvantaged areas. 

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), who gave a workshop about working in the education sector, said: “The world of work offers a bewildering range of opportunities for young people. It is immensely important that they have the chance to gain insights early on about different jobs and careers, especially when they cover areas outside their immediate experience. 

“Employers often say that young people do not come to them with appropriate skills, and this project provides an ideal opportunity to talk directly to young people about what is required to succeed in the workplace. 

“Having seen the benefits of this approach first hand as a headteacher, I am grateful to the many employers who have willingly volunteered their time and I am confident it will be hugely beneficial to the young people involved.”

Nearly 100 employers took part in the careers fair, which was attended by 1,000 pupils. Inspiring the Future is the sister programme of Speakers for Schools, which organises business speakers for the education sector. Both programmes are administered by charity the Education and Employers Taskforce.

Sir Roger Carr, president of the Confederation of British Industry and chairman of Centrica, gave a workshop to pupils at the launch on working in business.

He told SecEd: “There is nothing more compelling for young people thinking about their future careers than meeting and speaking to inspirational people who do the jobs they are considering.”

He continued: “We desperately need to tackle the corrosive effects of high youth unemployment in the UK, so I would urge employers to sign up to this initiative and encourage their staff to get involved and provide valuable insights into their careers.”

Employers who took part in the Tower Hamlets event included Aston Martin, Barts Hospital, the BBC, the Civil Service, London City Airport, L’Oreal, the Met Police, the Teaching Agency and Virgin Trains. A number of smaller business also attended including a landscape designer, furniture maker, stonemason, musician and 20 apprentices.

Dr Deirdre Hughes, chair of the National Careers Council and UK commissioner for employment and skills, believes the programme is a unique and innovative approach to connect young people to the world of work. 

She said: “It brings alive the reality of people’s working lives and the differing pathways to success. The initiative encourages young people, teachers and employers to learn from one another and, most importantly, to network and to find out more about career resilience and adaptability in a rapidly changing economy.”

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