Why employers should engage with schools/colleges
Posted by Jen Derrick on 3 March 2021

It’s National Careers Week – a week to encourage students from colleges and schools to explore future careers. As professionals that started their careers on placements, and a business that has taken on several students in the past, we understand the importance of nurturing young talent for career success.

In addition to the relationships we’ve built with students, we work closely with clients who work in industries that are becoming increasingly reliant on the younger generation for their skills. This is particularly true for the rail and technologies industries , can be related to most sectors.

Because of our extensive experience working with rail clients, we are acutely aware of the industry’s ageing workforce and serious skills shortage. This, combined with the fact that the industry is undergoing rapid digital change, presents a potentially serious problem for the future, particularly when we already know that there will be new roles we aren’t even aware of yet.

Jobs that currently exist in rail will be considerably different in a few years’ time, so it’s becoming increasingly important to nurture talent from a young age, equipping them with the right skills they need to enter the workforce. Using practical means to educate young people about their possible future careers and the options they have is absolutely crucial.

The skills deficit applies to other scientific and engineering fields too, with the UK’s STEM skill shortage being well documented. Research from stem.org.uk revealed that in 2018, lack of uptake in STEM careers was costing businesses £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries and additional training costs.

Despite there being a widening skills gap, engineering industries tend to be recession-proof fields that offer an abundance of opportunities to upskill, scale the career ladder, travel the country and earn a decent living. Joining forces with colleges and schools is an ideal way to empower young people and prove to them that STEM-related jobs are highly rewarding. Doing so is the only real way we can truly grow the future workforce and help bring young people closer to successful jobs.

Three females sat at a desk reading from textbooks in a school lesson.

Awareness campaigns like National Careers Week are essential in gathering momentum and bringing students and businesses together. So, in light of the event, what can employers do to arm students with practical insights to prepare them for life after education? One way is to make sure you talk to the young people you know about the options they have, rather than just showing them the after- effects of going to and coming home from work. To help reach bigger audiences, we’ve rounded up some ideas below. 

  1. Skills bootcamps

Some governing bodies deliver bootcamps whereby they partner with colleges and enlist the help of employers to run training programmes that are designed to boost students’ employability skills and give them valuable work experience. It’s worth checking out what’s going in in your local area to see if there are any upcoming skills bootcamps your organisation could get involved with.

  1. Job shadowing

Job shadowing can be an effective way to give students direct experience in a working environment they can picture themselves belonging in, while also providing them with a useful network of contacts for the future. Job shadowing also has the benefit of being reasonably easy to set up.

  1. Mock interview sessions

Interviews can be a pretty daunting prospect for a young individual who has absolutely no idea of what an interview might entail. Organising mock interview sessions with students from colleges and schools can be a great way to help them feel better prepared for the future.

  1. Host talks at schools and colleges

There are often significant barriers to overcome between the younger generation and their ideas of the workplace. A practical way to break down these barriers is to host a talk in a school or college that focuses on your job position or invite other experts within your organisation to speak about their experience first-hand in terms that chime with a younger audience. 

  1. Mentoring

Connecting with young people in schools and colleges through a mentoring scheme is an inspiring way to support individuals with their next steps towards a rewarding career. Identifying their personal strengths and guiding them through potential career paths can help point them in the right direction.

For more articles on careers and young people, take a look at our article: 5 reasons young people should consider working in rail.

 

“Since day one, Amy herself has fit seamlessly into our team, understanding the message we want to convey and the audiences we want to reach. Her upfront audit was invaluable in helping us internally hone our common voice, which has demonstrated itself in the consistency of the content we put out as a brand and as individuals within the company. Behind the scenes, Amy has instinctively adopted our internal communication methods (Slack, SharePoint) and works closely with our in-house graphic design team to ensure our graphics and copy are in sync.” Lucy Prior MBE - previously from 3Squared 2021
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“I met Amy a few years ago at a Young Rail Professionals event and was able to provide her with an opportunity to manage the comms on a major alliance which she flourished at. Soon after she started, Marie came along to provide HR support across the multiple businesses. It seems only natural that being as dynamic and knowledge as they are, they are looking to work together on this new venture, which I am sure will be a huge success.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston
“I saved so much time after implementing a more structured approach which has given me the opportunity to focus on creating more content and work more closely with my clients. Amy and her team are easy to deal with and are quick to provide valuable solutions. I would not hesitate to work with Hey Me again in the future.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston

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