There has been a surge in the number of people volunteering as Enterprise Advisers in secondary schools and colleges to support careers education – with more than half of all volunteers at CEO or Chair level, new figures from The Careers & Enterprise Company show.
More than 1,300 senior employers from small family-owned firms to global corporations are working with headteachers across the country to help shape career programmes and employer engagement plans since the Company started operations just over 18-months ago.
The volunteers are recruited through the Company’s Enterprise Adviser Network which aims to strengthen links between education and business to inspire young people about their future careers and the workplace. They are supported by professional, trained coordinators.
It means that the government-backed Company has gone from a standing start to pairing business volunteers with almost half of all secondary schools and colleges in England with a combined population of more than 1.3million students.
The figures come as schools, colleges and businesses mark National Careers Week and the importance of high quality careers advice to help young people into the world of work.
The figures also show that:
more than half (52%) of all business volunteers hold a senior role in their organisation at CEO, chair, director, partner, section head or owner level
the business volunteers have contributed more than 60,000 working hours of their time for free over the last year – adding £2million worth of value.
business volunteers come from a wide range of organisations such as the NHS, Microsoft, Capita, Lloyds, Capgemini, and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as a range of smaller organisations, start-ups and SMEs
business volunteers also come from a wide range of sectors with the top five industries made up of professional services, manufacturing, information services, financial services and education
54% of business volunteers are men while 46% are women
Simon Francis, an Enterprise Adviser with Sir John Hunt Community School in Plymouth and a Senior Associate Director with Capita, said: "What’s great is that the school and I are learning together. I don’t have expertise in education but I know the construction industry inside out as well as the skills that employers want. I’ve opened up my contacts book to help build a network in sectors the school previously struggled with, making introductions to about 20 business leaders who can support careers activity."
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Robert Halfon said: "Introducing young people to a wide range of individuals from different backgrounds and career journeys is key to helping them raise aspirations and unlock their potential.
"We are transforming careers education by providing £90 million to The Careers & Enterprise Company to continue their vital work. They have done a fantastic job in setting up such a vast volunteer network, working closely with schools and colleges.
"I would like to thank them and all the volunteers who have taken time out of their busy lives to help open our young people’s eyes to all the exciting opportunities that are available and I look forward to seeing the network expand and empower more young people to get on to the ladder of opportunity."
Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers and Enterprise Company, said: "Research by Dr Anthony Mann shows that young people who have four encounters with the world of work are 86% less likely to be NEET – not in education, employment or training.
"Today far too many young people do not get this opportunity. In 60% of schools young people do not have any real engagement with the world of work. This is not because schools and colleges do not want support – it is because they often cannot access it.
"Our business volunteers – more than 50% of whom are CEOs or Chairs – work with the leadership teams of schools and colleges to build careers and employer engagement plans. They help schools and colleges connect to local employers and access the best career and enterprise support.
"We are delighted by the growth in our network which now stands at more than 1,300 senior volunteers after just over 18 months in operation. This growth shows the commitment among employers of all sizes who stand ready and willing to help young people transition more effectively from education into the world of work.
"This is the start of a national movement and we look forward to seeing it continue to grow in the months and years to come."
Nick Newman, Chief Executive of National Careers Week, said: "We are delighted to have the support of The Careers & Enterprise Company for National Careers Week 2017. Having helped over 3 million young people since we started, I am proud to have founded an initiative which has improved the life chances of young people and helped contribute to the economic development in so many regions of the UK by matching the aspirations of future generations with the needs of our businesses. Long may our partnership continue."