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The Queen Katherine School sets precedent for virtual careers education

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s Careers Hub, Speakers for Schools and local employers are set to host a Virtual Insight Day series at The Queen Katherine School in Kendal from 22-26 March 2021, providing a high quality virtual experience of the world of work.

The Cumbria pilot is structured to include all of the elements that the Careers and Enterprise Company state creates impactful experiences of workplaces, and is set to be developed to provide a wider offer to schools and young people in Cumbria, supported by more employers who wish to work collectively or individually to run insight day programmes.

Each of the 5 days will focus on a different sector and will be available to students in year 10 and 11, providing careers insights to over 250 young people at The Queen Katherine School.

The days are also set to give local employers an opportunity to see and experience the Speakers for Schools platform.

Speakers for Schools is a national charity with a mission to help level the playing field for young people of all backgrounds. Its aspirational events put young people in touch with leading companies and support partners, to spark their ambitions and belief in what is possible for the future.

The 5 sector insight days, running each day from 10am-3pm, are:

  • Monday 22 March: Digital and Media. Supported by Kendal Mountain Festival, Plain Creative, Nuclear Graduates and Adamedia.
  • Tuesday 23 March: Visitor Economy. Supported by Graythwaite Adventure, Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, Hargreaves Enterprises, Mountain Goat Tours and the Lake District National Park.
  • Wednesday 24 March: Construction, Engineering and Clean Energy. Supported by Story Contractors, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Orsted, NTS Golbal, Kaefer and PPM.
  • Thursday 25 March: Professional Services. Supported by The Cumberland Building Society, Kaveney HR and GKM Solicitors.
  • Friday 26 March: Entrepreneurship. Supported by Lake District Adventuring, Herdy, Westmorland Group, Watch this Space, Future Fixers, TEG, Lakeland and Victoria Candles.

Cath Dutton, Careers Hub Manager at Cumbria Careers Hub, said: “Meaningful experiences of the workplace pose a significant challenge in 2021. It is therefore essential that virtual experiences are in place to enable young people to gain valuable encounters with employers and the opportunity to explore sectors that they may wish to pursue a career in.

“Employers can have a dramatic impact in supporting young people to achieve their aspirations – and virtual experiences are a great way of doing so. Whilst virtual experiences will not displace traditional work placements, they offer an alternative way of gaining experiences. As well as assisting with current COVID-19 restrictions, they also negate geographical barriers and issues which have previously prevented employers from offering placements.

“We are delighted to be developing this insight day programme with Speakers for Schools, The Queen Katherine School and a host of fantastic Cumbrian businesses, and we look forward to more schools, colleges and employers getting involved.”

Jason Elsom, Chief Executive Officer, Speakers for Schools, said: “We are delighted to see leading employers in Cumbria and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership working with Speakers for Schools and joining our mission to end educational inequality. We hope more employers join our virtual work experience programme and more schools sign up to broaden the horizons of young people across the UK.”

Pip Kingston, Careers Lead at The Queen Katherine School, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for our students. To be able to provide meaningful, interactive virtual work experience is an exciting prospect. Building strong links with our employment community gives our students insight into the real and varied employment opportunities here in South Cumbria. We want our students to feel inspired and positive about their future.”

Jess, Year 10 student at The Queen Katherine School, said: “We couldn't do work experience at these places due to COVID, and this way I get to see and ask questions to all different employers that I wouldn't be able to do if I went to one place for a week.”

Evie, Year 10 student at The Queen Katherine School, said: “I think I'll prefer doing it online as I won't be as nervous and I'll have the courage to ask questions. I'll definitely be more talkative. I'm looking forward to it.”

Claire Fielding, People Business Partner at Lakeland, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in Queen Katherine School’s virtual insight days. Bev, Amy and Gareth from our senior leadership team are very much looking forward to spending time with the young people involved, providing valuable insight into the world of Retail here at Lakeland.”

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