2017_03_15 Ahead Partnership Whitcliffe_0097

Getting Ready for Work: how can we better prepare young people for their future careers?

by Anna Turner, our Creative Programmes Coordinator

As of November 2016, Ofsted have published ‘Getting Ready for Work’ - a report based on visits to 40 schools that primarily seeks to answer a single question: “How well are schools and businesses engaging with each other?” The premise is that the better schools and businesses interact with each other, the better they’ll be preparing students to make choices about future careers.

Here, we’ll be breaking down four of the recommendations made by Ofsted for improving relationships between schools and businesses – two for businesses and two for schools. Whether you’re an employer or an educationalist, you’ll find something in these recommendations to help you better contribute to the experience of students who are learning about the world of work.


Businesses recommendation: “Support local schools in greater number by offering activities such as mock interviews, participation in careers fairs and careers talks”

Ofsted found that there are two core reasons businesses engage with schools: to secure their future workforce and to fulfil their corporate social responsibility objectives. However, even with these motivations for engagement, there is still demand for greater contact with businesses who can offer schools a range of activities. For example, you may be surprised to find that “while more than three quarters of firms believe a lack of work experience is the reason young people are unprepared for work, more than half of businesses (52%) say that they do not work with schools to offer work experience placements.”

On a positive note, the report found that two-way, mutually beneficial relationships between schools and businesses consistently provided the best results for students. One example given by the report of “excellent” employer engagement involved a school allowing businesses to use the school site for networking under the provision that they also involve the students in the event.

This certainly rings true of our programmes such as Make the Grade and Aspire2Work where we plan a bespoke range of activities for each business partner – from guest speaking spots in whole school assemblies, to one-to-one interview practice with keen students.


Businesses recommendation: “Provide well-planned and constructive opportunities for pupils to gain work experience and an insight into a range of roles and occupations”

In ‘Getting Ready for Work’, the biggest weakness identified within careers education was “lack of coherence in planning enterprise education and a failure to identify what the pupils should learn and be able to do as a result of the teaching.” This is something that the students themselves seemed to feel acutely as the report states how “pupils who spoke to inspectors during the visits frequently said that their experience tended to be a series of one-off events that lacked any sense of progression.”

As such, excellent planning and the ability to offer students a sense of having achieved concrete outcomes seems to be the key to fantastic engagement between schools and businesses. Whilst many businesses may lack the time and resources to handle all this required organisation single-handedly, our misson is to aid businesses who would otherwise be keen to get involved. Is there an enterprise or volunteering idea you'd love to bring to young people in your area? Partnering with teams like ours can help light the fuse...


Schools recommendation: “Develop stronger links with business by using local networks provided by, for example, the chambers of commerce and LEPs”

The “time consuming and impractical” nature of creating, developing and maintaining strong links with the business world was often cited by schools as a reason for their inability to effectively manage their own networks. Schools can be limited by the time, budgets and resources available to them, so it makes sense that they should be making use of external organisations who may be able to help them develop stronger links with businesses.

At Ahead Partnership, we aim to ensure that schools make full use of our extensive network of businesses and partners. Putting real businesses, professionals and the world of work at the centre of careers education guarantees that students have access to relevant and exciting opportunities for development. Our strategic links with other networks enables us to become a powerful tool in making collaboration for best careers and enterprise education happen.


Schools recommendation: “Ensure that all teachers involved in delivery have access to appropriate professional development”

‘Getting Ready for Work’ also includes a number of positive case studies and examples of best practice. For example, in one of the schools in which enterprise education was found to be a strength, it was noted that “the embedding of enterprise and employability knowledge and skills was integral to the whole-school approach to staff’s continuing professional development.”

In future, it may become increasingly crucial that schools have a strong focus on continuing professional development. This demonstrates a commitment to offering students the best possible opportunities for careers education, putting staff in an advantageous position of being able to draw on up-to-date knowledge and information.

Our school and college partners have access to careers and enterprise-focused CPD events as part of their programmes as well as learning and networking opportunities throughout the year. Joining forces with us isn't just about directly targeting young people but about how opportunities can be extended throughout your school/college to ensure success.


Is your school, college or business struggling to find a way to really engage young people in the world of work and key employability skills? Take a look at our Make the Grade case studies to find out how we're helping turn the tide on careers and enterprise education. 


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