Business leaders support the region’s young people

Delegates outside the Stockport Academy

Business leaders convene to tackle the educational attainment and employability of the region’s young people

Successfully supporting young people in education and onwards into employment is of critical importance to the economic future and growth of the North West.

Some of the region’s top employers have taken part in a ‘Seeing is Believing’ visit, organised by Business in the Community (BITC), designed to show first-hand the key role businesses can play in tackling the education attainment and employability of young people in the North West.

Established 25 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales, Seeing is Believing was born from a simple but powerful idea – to close the gap between the boardroom and the community.

The visit was led by Andrew Cowan, Chief Strategy Officer, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and included senior business leaders from National Grid, Romec Ltd, MVH Ltd, Timpsons, Barclays, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Viridor Laing.

Delegates heard about the challenges secondary schools are facing, particularly those from deprived communities, ranging from preparing students for the world of work to developing resilient teachers. They also saw how strategic long-term partnerships between businesses and schools are an effective way to support young people facing disadvantage and deliver benefits to their own business and employees.

Andrew Cowan and Frank Robinson
Andrew Cowan and Frank Robinson meeting with students

The day started at Stockport Academy where business leaders spent time meeting students and taking part in a workshop focused on careers and employability run by Lex Autolease aimed at raising the students’ aspirations and employability.

This was followed by a visit to Manchester Enterprise Academy, where the school outlined their improvement journey and the new challenges this brings at a leadership and governance level.  Delegates heard the experiences of Accenture and how business can provide strategic support for school leaders.

Finally, delegates heard from Salford City Academy students and the impact of their well-established mentoring programme with business volunteers from PZ Cussons.

Andrew Cowan, Chief Strategy Officer at MAG and Chair BITC’s North West Advisory Board, said: “I am delighted to lead such a worthwhile visit and support an incredible cause that highlights the excellent work BITC is undertaking to tackle employability across the region.

“As one of the biggest employers in the North West, Manchester Airport has a symbiotic relationship with our local communities to ensure employees of the future have access to the right training and education, in order to suitably fill the roles available here on site. This is mainly delivered through our ongoing commitment to Manchester Enterprise Academy and our on-site Airport Academy, which last year helped over 200 people into employment

“I would like to thank all of the other companies who took part today and urge other employers to get involved with BITC, in order for us all to reap the rewards of the excellent work they do.”

Angela Sorby, Assistant Principal, Stockport Academy, said: “Engaging with Business in the Community and with Lex Autolease as partners has opened up a wealth of new opportunities for our students.

“In preparing students for life in the modern world it is invaluable to be working with future employers and ensuring that the right guidance is being offered to the workforce of tomorrow.”

“Delegates will reconvene to share how they will take forward their learning from the day into their own businesses and supply chains.

“In the North West, Business in the Community is currently working with some of the region’s top employers with our school and business partnership programme ‘Business Class’.

“Our focus is on the schools most in need of support and for many schools their only interaction with employers is through Business Class.  In the North West, over 100 secondary schools have been involved to date, while nationally over 470 schools have been supported by 1,000 businesses impacting on 150,000 young people.

“Research undertaken recently by the University of Warwick provided comprehensive evidence of the positive impact of business and school partnerships on schools, pupils and businesses.

“The research, ‘Destiny should not be determined by Demography’, showed that business involvement in schools expands pupil confidence, and aligns their academic activities with the world of work – reducing the likelihood of them becoming NEET.

“Aside from pupil alignment, attainment and employability the research identified three other areas of impact on schools: increased support for leadership and governance, enhanced management skills and financial savings.”