Women leaders take centre stage at Cardinal Newman College

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As part of our programme of motivation and information sessions for state sixth formers, three senior business leaders visited Cardinal Newman College in Preston recently to share their experiences and career choices with their BTEC Business students.

Alison Cannon, Director at Resonate, Search and Selection, Karen Jackson, Managing Director of CPM and Alison O’Brien Customer Business Controller at Warbutons, discussed in detail their individual routes and career pathways. This included giving practical tips and advice for students’ next steps after college as well as giving a more broader understanding of the different opportunities available in the industry.

Their key tips for success were:

  • Do not always take the easy road!
  • Line your own values with those of the company you work for.
  • Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
  • Do everything with passion.
  • Work hard and be positive – ensure you are nice to other people.

Ann Brennan, HOD for BTEC Business said:

‘This was an amazing opportunity for our learners to get a real insight into the business world and echoes the employability skills that are so crucial moving forward for our young people.”



How are Working Options programmes helping colleges to deliver the Gatsby Benchmarks?

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In this blog we explain the Gatsby Benchmarks, how they have influenced Government strategy for careers guidance and how Working Options programmes are helping sixth form colleges to deliver against the benchmarks.

What are the Gatsby Benchmarks?

A report published earlier this year set out what career guidance in England’s schools and colleges should look like going forward. The  Gatsby benchmarks – there are eight in total – have a key role to play in:

  • Raising young people’s aspirations and promoting access to all career pathways.
  • Enabling all young people to develop the skills and outlook they need to achieve career well-being, including adaptability and resilience
  • Underpinning the DfE’s guidance to schools and colleges on how to meet their statutory responsibilities for careers guidance. By 2020, all colleges will be expected to meet these as part of their careers guidance programme.

How is Working Options helping sixth form colleges to deliver the Gatsby benchmarks?

The Gatsby Benchmarks already closely reflect what Working Options is doing through our careers education programme in sixth form colleges. Below we show how we’re delivering on each.

Gatsby Benchmark How Working Options supports the benchmark
1. Schools and colleges should offer a stable, structured careers programme This is for colleges to develop but we can offer advice.
2. Students and parents to learn from careers and labour market information We offer some signposting through our online careers hub for young people
3. Careers programmes should address the needs of each student Our Motivation and Information sessions provide a range of volunteer speakers (different levels of seniority and function) catering for a wide audience and always challenging stereotypical thinking.
4. Curriculum should make links with  careers Our volunteer speakers share their career journeys to help students see how their learning is relevant and how it will help them in the workplace.
5. Multiple ‘valid’ encounters for students with employers and employees Our Motivation and Information sessions provide a two-hour encounter with a range of volunteer speakers where the student learns about what work is like and what it takes to become successful in the workplace. Sessions include networking time.
6. First hand student experiences of workplaces We don’t currently offer this, but it’s in development.
7. Encounters with range of further and higher education providers to understand options Outside our area of expertise. We do provide some information on education options after sixth form via our online careers information hub.
8. Personal guidance interview opportunities for students Outside our area of expertise.

Get in touch

Colleges have a big task on their hands to get careers education right and meet the standards expected. The more help they can get from employers to succeed the better. If you’re an employer and building relationships with your local colleges has been on your to do list for a while or you’re a college that wants to engage more with business get in touch with us.

We’re hiring – Programme Development and Fundraising Manager

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We have a vacancy for a full time Programme Development  and Fundraising Manager (c£35k p.a.) to join our team.  Read on for more about the role.


This is an exciting and varied role which will suit a candidate ready to take the next step in furthering their experience and leadership skills within a small collaborative environment which values dynamism, professionalism, integrity and ‘can-do’ attitude. This role will be a mixture of home and field based with independent and team work and you’d be:

  • responsible for creating additional new services and programmes which enhance the current in college Motivation & Information session experience.
  • leading our efforts to secure and develop funds for the charity from new and existing partners and assist in major fundraising event planning and organisation.


 Programme Development:

  • Develop the blueprint for potential additional services and programmes which enhance our sessions or deliver commercial gain whilst ensuring a consistent and relevant experience.
  • Gain internal support and external validation for all suggested developments, and create materials needed to implement.
  • Ensure all programme strategies are legally compliant and relevant and fit with the charity goals and values.
  • Liaise with the National Development Manager during all stages of the development process and be an active participant in all pilot and roll out processes.


  • Focus on delivering annual fundraising targets for Working Options. Agree the annual financial target with the founders each year and develop a fundraising plan to achieve goals.
  • The primary focus is to identify and target potential investors (individuals and companies) and develop programmes or sponsorship ideas that meet client objectives and are in line with the Working Options Vision. Be willing to undertake research on, network and build relationships with prospective partners.
  • Work alongside the founder and Trustees to build, maintain and develop key high-profile relationships in corporate, personal, government or education sectors.
  • Secondary fundraising focus on Foundations and Education sector grant and subsidies.

Fundraising events:

  • Assist in major fundraising event planning and organisation to maximise fundraising profits for Working Options. Use charity network to utilise celebrity endorsement and support of Working Options events, and to help source speakers or entertainment options for events.
  • Develop new fundraising event ideas at a corporate or volunteer level.
  • Aim to secure Working Options as a nominated Charity of the Year and maintain relationships to ensure ongoing support from these partners.


  • Develop and implement required safeguarding policies that Working Options should have in place.
  • Highlight and lead any training that employees and Trustees should complete.


  • Strategic mindset with open outlook and willingness to work across boundaries.
  • Sound commercial and financial understanding and proven business acumen.
  • Effective communication skills and an ability to multi task and meet deadlines whilst maintaining quality.
  • Ability to be self-motivated and directed, and work effectively in a team which predominantly works remotely.
  • Strong planning and organisation skills.
  • Understanding of education system preferred and/or experience of the running and governance of charitable organisations.


If you’re interested in finding out more about the role and how to apply, call Lauren Monk, National Development Manager for an informal chat on 07944 443073 or email laurenm@workingoptions.co.uk

Working Options sponsors Rising Star award

By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options news | No Comments

We’re delighted that Working Options is again sponsoring the Rising Star award at the Quality Food Awards.

This award recognises the food and drink retail industry stars of the future and is open to anyone under the age of 25 who works in any area of the food and drink industry or is studying to enter this field.

So whether the young person in question is working as a chef or in the retail grocery sector, be it in a small convenience store or a large supermarket, or studying food technology, the Rising Star Award wants to recognise those bright sparks who show the passion and drive to succeed in the food and drink industry.

The award is free to enter, nominations are welcome until 6 July and the ceremony takes place in November.

More information and to enter 

The Apprenticeships Levy: One Year On

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Here at Working Options we’re convinced of the benefits of Apprenticeships for both students and employers.

Recent analysis of data from the Education and Skills Funding Agency commissioned by the Open University (OU) – The Apprenticeship Levy: One Year On – shows that more than £1.28 billion of the funding that has been paid into the Apprenticeship levy by companies is sitting in National Apprenticeship Service accounts with only £108 million withdrawn to date. Worryingly, the funds sitting in these accounts expire after 24 months. Companies are clearly failing to maximise the opportunities of the levy and the OU urges employers to pick up the pace before everyone loses out.

Now, a year is not a long time, and there have undoubtedly been barriers to companies getting their schemes up and running. The OU is calling for a more agile approach and the introduction of ‘modular apprenticeships’. These would allow employers to tailor training by adding additional learning modules to ‘core’ apprenticeships; an approach supported by one in four employers (24%), and that still works towards the UK government’s target of developing three million new apprentices by 2020.

We already help ABP UK to promote their Apprenticeship vacancies to the students in the colleges we work with. If you’d like to join them to promote your Apprenticeships, get in touch.

It’s National Apprenticeship Week

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National Apprenticeship Week takes place this week (5-9 March). During the week, employers and apprentices from across England will come together to celebrate the success of apprenticeships whilst encouraging even more people to choose apprenticeships as a pathway to a great career.

In our careers hub you can find information about how to find an apprenticeship and live apprenticeship vacancies from the ABP UK. 


More about National Apprenticeship Week 2018


Students meet food and drink industry leaders and entrepreneurs at our Leadership Symposium conference

Dave Cheesewright Walmart International By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options fundraising events, Working Options news | No Comments

Students from sixth form colleges around the country were invited to attend our recent Leadership Symposium event to hear from and network with leaders in the food / drink industry and sports personalities. Speakers at the event included Paralympian Hannah Cockroft,  President and Chief Executive of Walmart International, Dave Cheesewright and Alison Horner, Chief People Officer at Tesco.

Here some students from Collyers, a sixth form college in West Sussex explain why they were so inspired by the speakers and delegates at this high profile annual event which raises funds for Working Options and Grocery Aid.

Thanks to The District Post for this article, read it here


Credit: The District Post – 5 Jan 2018


UK Rising Star Quality Food Award winner announced

By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options news | No Comments

We’re pleased to announce that William Page from Simply Lunch has won the first UK Rising Star Quality Food Award 2017.


Working Options in Education sponsored the new Rising Star award this year. We’re also delighted to be the Quality Food Awards nominated charity partner this year.


William works as purchasing manager at Simply Lunch, a family-owned lunch caterer in London. At just 22-years-old, William has already shown himself to be a highly competent and energetic purchasing expert, having led this department for three years. In that time Simply Lunch has grown from a £2 million business to a £14 million company.


UK Rising Star Quality Food Award 2017

Quality Food Awards Rising Star Award Credit: fergusburnett.com

The Quality Food Awards Rising Star is a new national award designed to recognise and reward the achievements of young people within the food and drink industry. The UK Rising Star was open to under 25s working in any aspect of the food and drink products industry or who are studying to enter this field. Whether they are training to be a development chef or are in the retail grocery sector – be it small convenience store or a large supermarket – the UK Rising Star Quality Food Award is designed to recognise young, upcoming talent.


Lauren Monk, national development manager for Working Options in Education, said:


“William was a very worthy winner of the Rising Star Award and it was a pleasure to celebrate with him on the evening. William’s achievements in his career so far are very impressive and his entry really demonstrated that he also emulates the Working Options five principles of success: hard work; perseverance; good work standards; networking and positive thinking. It was extremely difficult to choose a winner, as all of the nominees were very talented, bright and hard-working individuals. I’m certain they all have very bright futures ahead of them and will play a part in continuing to influence impactful and instrumental developments in the FMCG industry.”


“We were keen to do something to celebrate those young people who want to enter our industry and are showing huge potential to be dynamic future leaders,” said Helen Lyons, publishing director for the Quality Food Awards. “We couldn’t think of a better partner for this new award than Working Options in Education. Their commitment to promoting our sector as a vibrant, rewarding place to work among young people is in complete alignment with our desire to support and champion the food and drink products and the production and retailing of them. Huge congratulations to William on his work to date and I’m looking forward to seeing what he will achieve in future.”


William said of his win: “What can I say about winning? Firstly to get nominated/shortlisted was fantastic, but to win was amazing, especially such a prestigious award as a Q award. I first heard about the Quality Food Awards in 2014 when we won a small producer award for our Chicken Fajita Wrap, which was a fantastic achievement for us. I have my Q award on my desk at work, but doubtless it will make its way to the company boardroom at some point.”


There was also a highly commended award to Andrew McGow, who is training in butchery at ABP Ellesmere.


For more information on the Quality Food Awards visit the website:  http://uk.qualityfoodawards.com – entries for 2018 for UK Quality Food Awards Rising Star will open in March next year.

New research shows link between academic achievement and employer engagement

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Findings of a new research report Making the Grade: Does involvement in activities impact the achievement of young people? published by charity Education and Employers confirms that employer engagement and work experience are key to achieving top grades.


The report explores the findings from a new survey which asked teachers specifically what happens to children and young people in terms of their academic achievement after taking part in activities with local employers, for example work experience, careers sessions or enterprise activities. Many teachers are well placed to offer an informed professional opinion on whether employer engagement impacts on pupil achievement , why and how it might do so, when and where it is optimally designed for maximum impact and who (among pupils) is best placed to benefit. The report addresses three specific themes:


1.  Do employer engagement activities have an impact on the academic achievement of pupils?

2.  Which activities have the greatest impacts, and on which type of pupil?

3.  Why, according to teachers, do these activities have an impact?


Making the Grade builds on previous research published earlier this year from Education and Employers and LifeSkills.


Key findings


  • 9 out of 10 secondary school teachers (93%) say that work experience and employer related activities can help students to do better in exams.
  • Teachers also said that one in five pupils (20%) in a typical year group today have positively benefitted from these activities in school.
  • Successful work experience placements are believed to have the greatest impact on improving academic attainment, with over a quarter of teachers ranking it as their first choice. This is followed closely by employer-led sessions such as career events with employee volunteers.
  • While the sentiment was shared across the state and independent sector, the majority of teachers believed that employer engagement in the most disadvantaged schools had the highest impact.
  • Over half of teachers felt academic achievement can be improved by helping students understand the relevance of education to employment, as well as exposing students to new role models through employer engagement.