Why work with schools?

Businesses choose to work with schools and their pupils for a number of reasons. They may see the advantage of developing relationships with potential employees or be interested in raising the profile of their organisation, product or service in the local community. Case studies of employers working with young people and schools in Somerset are available here.

The benefits of businesses and schools working together are many and varied and, where successful, can inspire young people, teaching staff and the curriculum; putting learning into context and making it directly relevant to real job opportunities within the local community.  By inspiring and influencing your local school and their pupils, recruitment should become much easier.

Ways you could work with your local school

There are currently a number of ways in which you could support your local school.  It is suggested that you contact your local school with a clear offer and provide an indication of how much time you are able to commit from the outset.  You could consider offering one or more of the following:

  • Invite teaching staff and/or pupils to visit your business premises;
  • Offer structured work experience or work placements of one week or more.  Models and templates are available for employers and students to help everyone make the most of their experience;
  • Provide industry mentors to work alongside students who want to learn more about careers and progression routes in your industry;
  • Give a presentation on your business, the different job roles, what is expected of staff, opportunities and routes into work, etc;
  • Attend a local or school-based careers fair;
  • Apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds to develop the skills you need in the workplace;
  • Mock interviews;
  • Become a school Governor

In Bridgwater several schools work with the Bridgwater Education Trust, to offer work-related opportunities to ensure young people are better equipped in their understanding of the world of business and work. More information is available here.

Making the most of education-business engagement

It has been recognised that the most effective engagement between education and businesses is when the engagement activity is integrated throughout the curriculum, rather than employed as a separate bolt-on activity.  The SESG is keen to work with businesses and schools to understand how this can best be achieved and to make it easier for businesses and schools to connect with each other.

If you’re interested in developing this area of work, why not consider becoming an employer champion.  Tell us how you could help by contacting coordinator@skills4somerset.org.uk.

In the absence of a single solution for Somerset, you may want to explore Inspiring The Future.  This is a secure on-line database to collate details of interested in working with their local educational establishments.  This portal was developed by the National Education and Employers Task Force and some of our local schools are already looking here for contacts.

Health and Safety

The Government has taken action to reduce the bureaucracy associated with work experience placements. It has agreed with the insurance industry that work experience students are to be treated as employees for the purposes of insurance against injuries under existing Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) policies. The requirement for employers to undertake criminal record check on staff supervising employers has also been removed; employers are no longer able to carry out CRB checks on staff supervising young people aged 16 to 17 on work experience. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced simpler and clearer health and safety guidance for all those involved in work experience. Employers with fewer than 5 employees do not a need a written risk assessment and repeat assessments are not required for all new work experience students. Guidance on work experience is available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.