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Thought Piece: "Do employers have a role to play in Careers Education in Schools and Colleges? Absolutely without a doubt"

Thought Piece: Do employers have a role to play in careers education in schools and colleges? Cath Dutton, Careers Hub Manager, thinks so.

– By Cath Dutton, Careers Hub Manager

Prior to Covid and continuing to this day, many of our businesses in Cumbria report skills shortages; with some businesses having to close their doors temporarily to manage the skills crisis ultimately impacting on productivity and profitability. Compounding this problem is the shrinking working age population in Cumbria and the growing number of vacancies.

At a time when it continues to be increasingly difficult to fill the skills gaps in many businesses across Cumbria, should the Careers Hub be calling upon employers to support careers education in schools and colleges?

Admittedly, it’s a challenge on many levels…. businesses especially our small and micro businesses literally don’t have the capacity to release staff or leave the business themselves to get involved in careers education at their local school and if you do spare the time to get involved, how do you know it is working when many of the young people you talk to won’t leave compulsory education for at least another two years?

The answer is – it is working, and recent research tells us it is making a real difference to the career readiness of young people. Some employers reading this who completed the survey for the Local Skills Improvement Plan might argue that it isn’t working and actually young people leaving education right at this moment aren’t career ready. It’s important to say that we are not saying every young person leaving education isn’t career ready as we know many are and are already brilliant assets to many businesses in Cumbria.

But why are “so many” young people leaving education without the desired employability skills? It’s simple, in the last couple of years our young people missed out on employer engagement opportunities such as industry talks, mock interviews, site visits and experiences of the workplace simply because of Covid they didn’t get to develop their employability skills. Covid has been really challenging for young people, but we’ve noticed that by having to face change, many have become more adaptable and built their personal resilience - an underestimated skill I think, and one the future workforce will need.

Early engagement is key to start challenging perceptions and building essential workplace skills. It is crucial that employers work directly with schools to help young people see the relevance of skills like problem solving and communication to their future careers. There are plenty of ways to get involved and our schools and colleges and more importantly our young people would welcome you with open arms. There are opportunities to simply Give an Hour, to offer site visits to students, to offer work experience to Year 10 and Year 12 students or even deliver a project in school.

We are always looking for a range of employees and employers to get involved. Evidence suggests these experiences can make a key contribution to the skills young people need to thrive in the workplace. Just let us know if you would like to support and influence the skills and behaviours of your future workforce and we will help you do that whether you have an hour or longer to spare.

Visit our website to find out more or contact me by email

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