Leadership Symposium remains a big hit with students

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Fantastic to hear that students attending our annual Leadership Symposium in November got so much out of the experience. One student’s networking skills resulted in a degree apprenticeship with an industry delegate they met at the event. Others secured work experience shadowing the Chief Executive of one of the UK’s largest recruitment agencies and with a gaming business that produces educational video games.

Every year, we invite sixth form students from around the UK to attend this high profile event, providing a fantastic opportunity for them to hear from and rub shoulders with leaders from industry. Speakers this year included Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco, Debbie Robinson, Managing Director of Spar UK, Douglas Lamont of Innocent Drinks and journalist Piers Morgan.

Here’s what students from Collyer’s College had to say about the day:

“A very good experience it was great to meet such a wide variety of speakers and to have an  insight into the numerous jobs in the industry. It was valuable to practice my networking skills. I quickly realised that you could speak to a top CEO and after the nerves faded you could hold a good conversation with a group of people you had not met before. I am grateful for the opportunity to build on my skills and also to see such inspiring speakers.”

“It was such a great experience. I enjoyed the advice to understand risks not fear them. I particularly liked the presentation from FareShare as it demonstrated an ethical approach to business and ethically correct marketing that particularly interests me.”

“Very engaging I learnt so much about presentation, how to play to an audience and network with confidence. Being able to practice my networking skills really helped me with my questioning – talking to actual industry professionals was an experience without compare.”

“It was fun to try networking and I got to meet some good people. I had not considered this industry before (retail) but now I can really see the potential of it all.”

“From a self-esteem point of view it really spoke to me about confidence. I initially found networking quite challenging but being able to watch the rest of the team actually put these skills into practice gave the opportunity to develop my skills and I came away with some valuable contacts in the end. I was able to organise a degree apprenticeship with Jude Ower MBE and her IT company Playmob. An absolutely unbelievable opportunity.”

“It was a very enjoyable day encouraging, optimistic and it showed me that even the highest regarded business individuals can still be approachable.”

And the tutors gave us great feedback too.

Lucy Hargreaves, employability Coordinator at Collyers College said in an article in The County Times:

“This kind of access to top-level business people is such a privilege. The kind donation of thousands of pounds worth of tickets for this event made this a wonderful opportunity for our students!”

Chris Jennings, tutor from Cardinal Newman College brought along a group of Business and Economics students.

“I just wanted to say a huge thanks again for last Thursday; what an experience for our students! They were really buzzing about it and bragging to their mates on Friday. We would love to be invited back next year.”

Thanks from Bexhill Sixth Form College

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Last week we ran one of our motivation and information sessions for 100 students from the Politics, Economics, Business & Law Section at Bexhill Sixth Form College.

Speakers included Liam O’Brian, Account Manager at Salesforce – the world’s #1 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform.

Andy Pritchard, Head of Politics, Economics, Business & Law at the college said:

“The opportunity for our students to get exposure to such industry experts was extremely valuable. Liam inspired our students to be proactive in both creating and taking opportunities to develop their employability skills. They reinforced our message that in today’s labour market, individuals have to seek opportunities to enhance their CVs and have an ability to articulate their own viewpoint.”

Bexhill College motivation and information session

Rising Star award winner announced

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We were delighted to attend the Quality Food Awards this month where we sponsored the  Rising Star category for the second year. The winner was Bea Hill, Operations Assistant from handmade marshmallow company Mallow and Marsh. Although Bea couldn’t be there on the night, one of her colleagues (pictured) picked up her winner’s trophy. Huge congratulations to Bea on her win!

Working Options pilots employability skills workshops

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Working Options in Education has developed four standalone employability skills workshops which will be piloted with a number of our state sixth form college partners over the next few months. These build on our successful motivation and information sessions, by offering more in-depth experiences for students.

These new participatory workshops for 16-18 year olds focus on ‘employability skills gaps’ that students have identified during our motivation and information sessions, and also reflect those that employers are keen to see in their new recruits. Topics for the four workshops will be teamwork, problem solving, communication skills and interview skills; all have the aim of raising student aspirations and supporting social mobility.

“Students, colleges and employers have been telling us that employability skills are what they want. We’re really excited to be rolling out this pilot and will be inviting some of our colleges to get involved very soon, “ says Lauren Monk, National Development Manager at Working Options.

Format of the workshops

  • Each workshop will be 1 hour long (can be extended if time permits) and run by a trained facilitator provided by Working Options. We will also provide 2-3 other volunteers from industry dependent on the number of students taking part.
  • Colleges will need to supply an appropriate room (the optimum number of students is 20 but workshops can be run for smaller groups) and a tutor would need to be present throughout.
  • Students will need to complete an evaluation at the end of each workshop.

Impact of the workshops

As part of the pilot we’ll be evaluating every workshop, but the intended impacts are that:

  • students should leave a workshop feeling better equipped and informed about a particular employability skill
  • students should gain a more positive outlook on their future prospects after taking part
  • colleges will be able to evidence delivery of a number of the Gatsby Benchmarks by running these workshops in their college.

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.

Working Options sponsors Rising Star award

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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