Donating an hour can make all the difference to Lancashire students

Business people in Lancashire SMEs are being asked to ‘Give an Hour’ to help young people make career decisions and succeed in working life.

Launched by The Careers and Enterprise Company (C&EC) in conjunction with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) the campaign aims to increase the number of businesses engaging with schools and colleges across the county.

LEP Board Director for Skills and Technical Education (and Principle of Nelson and Colne College), Amanda Melton, said:  “We’re asking people who work in small and medium enterprises to give up an hour of their time to tell young  people what the world of work is really like.

“We’re looking for anything from a single hour in total to an hour a week and there are lots of ways to get involved, depending on what suits participants.

“Hearing from local SMEs is proven to help young people in their careers and boost their employability. But it will also benefit businesses too, making it easier for them to recruit in the future.

“This is one of a number of LEP initiatives that are creating the pipeline of skilled talent that Lancashire businesses need to thrive and which, in turn, is driving job creation and economic growth across the county.“

Stuart Graham, Senior Enterprise Co-ordinator with Inspira, said: “Not only is it proven to be beneficial for a young person to have strong links with local businesses, it also makes perfect sense for employers.

“Recruiting talented individuals is critical for any organisation, so why would you not want to be involved in a school that has direct access to the very candidates that at some point you’ll be looking to attract?”

Anyone who works in an SME at any level is being encouraged to share their career journey and insights with young people in local schools and colleges as this unique industry knowledge and experience could make a difference to students’ career options.

Activities can include attending careers fairs, giving talks in assemblies or lesson time, hosting workplace exploration visits or talking one to one with an individual who has expressed an interest in a particularly relevant sector or industry.

Along with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, the C&CE also funds the Enterprise Adviser Network and The Careers Hub in Lancashire, both of which are delivered by Inspira.

Paul Spencer, Managing Partner of Haworth Chartered Accountants in Accrington, is a volunteer Enterprise Adviser who is partnered with St Christopher’s High School, Queen’s Road West, Accrington,  to give students careers advice.

He said: “Working with local colleges and schools is extremely rewarding. Not only do we help to inspire young people, we can make a real difference to their lives, and help produce future leaders for our sectors. I would encourage any local business to get involved – giving up an hour or so is really nothing when you consider the enormous benefits to young people.”

Richard Jones, headmaster at St Christopher’s High School, said: “Work experience and careers education is an integral part of the curriculum at St Christopher’s. The industry experience that employers are able to provide is invaluable to our young people.

“Over the past ten years, 2,000 St Christopher’s pupils have benefitted from a period of work experience with a local, national or international employer and 86 per cent of them agreed that it made them want to work harder at school to gain qualifications.

“So there is a clear link between employer engagement and motivating young people to aim high in their choices for the future.”

The campaign, which will run for two months, aims to get as many businesses as possible to register their interest.

Firms can visit www.giveanhour.co.uk or e-mail info@inspira.org.uk for details.

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