Dr Anthony Mann gave a short presentation on the work of the Education and Employers Taskforce. It is a coalition of willing organisations which was set up 18 months ago. The primary role is to get employers working with schools and colleges. It covers 5-19 year olds and includes activities like business mentoring, School Governorships and work experience opportunities.
John Hayes is the Minister with responsibility in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education. There is significant buy-in from Government even though they are making significant cuts. A recent report, written by Professor Alison Wolf, has been published identifying theneed for vocational skills (particularly for 16-19 year olds). Colin Willman, Education Chair in the FSB, said that many employers saw vocational courses as being unnecessary as they were not suitable for particular roles.
A general discussion ensued. FSB members felt that education and business partnerships should be encouraged as they give young people incentives to work. However, many young people are not work ready with a lack of discipline in a working environment. Many members felt that a lot of work experience opportunities were simply to provide a 'favour' for a couple of weeks - this was deemed as the wrong approach. It was felt that career advisors were simply churning out the same old advice whereas they should be presenting new opportunities - for example low carbon job opportunities which is high on the political agenda.
Members also raised concerns about the Health and Safety implications of providing work experience. Anthony Mann said that there were various interpretations of health and safety in many different types of business. Anthony said that there were a high number of children who took work experience placements who were getting jobs or building career awareness. He also added that the advice that children received from their parents was critical in making career choices.
The most startling statistic of the event: 79 per cent of work experience takes place in small businesses.
One member commented: "kids aspire to do something, however, they hold negative experiences of work experience due to the fact that they are simply being asked to fill a place for three weeks". Members felt that there should be a work experience framework which would be easy for small businesses to understand. Anthony said that 'Work Inspirations' provide this.