When I reflect back on my time in secondary school, I can’t recall many instances of someone from the world of work visiting us to give a talk on their profession or inspire us to take an interest in a certain industry. That’s why I think the Inspiring the Future scheme, launched in England in 2012, is such a ‘genius concept’, to borrow the words of a college employee quoted in the initiative’s recently published four-year review.
Run by the charity Education and Employers, Inspiring the Future connects state schools and colleges with employers and people from the world of work. Volunteers from apprentices to chief executives, archaeologists and zoologists pledge just one hour a year to volunteer in a state school or college near where they live or work to talk to young people about their job and career route. Since it began, Inspiring the Future has worked with 5,500 state schools and colleges and more than 10,000 teachers who collectively have sent over 135,000 invitations to volunteers to engage with students.
While schools in England are legally required to provide independent careers guidance for all students in Years 8-13, careers provision remains patchy. Just last month, the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy said national skills shortages have been exacerbated by inadequate careers guidance in many English schools. The committee found that too many young people are leaving education without having had the chance to fully consider their future options or how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the jobs market.
Here at ASDAN, we passionately believe that fostering closer links between industry and schools and colleges can light a fire in young people. One way to bring businesses and education closer together is through providing high quality work placements. We witnessed first hand the power of good quality work experience when a Year 10 learner from a school near our Bristol office completed our new work experience programme in June. Oliwia Wiernicka told us she is now aiming for a career in finance having had a rewarding and enjoyable time in our finance department.
ASDAN’s Careers and Experiencing Work Short Course can also play its part in inspiring the future. This flexible and engaging programme contains modules including Considering Apprenticeships, Career Exploration, Career Management and Considering Higher Education. It is suitable for young people of all abilities, mainly aged 13 to 19, and can be used to accredit 10 to 60 hours of activities.
Young people are in need of inspiration and we must raise awareness of the huge range of career possibilities out there and help them realise that working hard in school or college will help them achieve their career goals.