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Government urges employers to partner with schools

Employers should develop links with local schools to support young people’s career aspirations, the Government has recommended.

Research published by the Department for Education into the most effective ways of encouraging high-achieving, disadvantaged pupils into higher education found pupils in London had benefitted from links between their schools and local banks, financial services, IT corporations and international law firms.

A survey of almost 560 schools and colleges revealed 63% had worked with businesses on projects such as employer mentoring schemes to raise aspirations.

The report recommended that schools and colleges should work pro-actively to “develop partnerships and links with universities and other external organisations (such as local employers) that can provide support for aspiration-raising and career development activities".

Patrick Philpott, founder of Visionpath Education, which works with employers to deliver skills and aspiration-raising programmes for students, said employers needed to realise working in collaboration with schools was not a “one-way street”. 

“It can be really successful for both sides,” Philpott said. “It helps schools prepare students for the workplace and raises aspirations, but it also helps businesses find great talent and fresh ideas.”

Philpott encouraged employers to dismiss “horror stories of unsuccessful partnerships”. 

“For every one of those stories, there will be many more successful collaborations,” he said. “Clear objectives and good channels of communication are key.”

Philpott also suggested employers work with an intermediary organisation to manage partnerships with schools. He is soon to launch an online platform called Open Careers that will match school leavers with employment opportunities using links between schools and employers.

“It’s great that more employers are looking to employ more young people, school leavers especially,” he added. “What’s needed is a greater effort to help young people find the right opportunities post-education, including apprenticeships.”

The Department for Education report also recommended schools and colleges hire specialist staff, including trained careers officers, who could provide young people with guidance about post-school study and employment opportunities.