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17 March 2017

Working with schools isn't just for big business

School Ties Front CoverGetting more businesses involved in the education system has been the goal of successive Scottish Governments. In 2003, the then Scottish Executive argued for “a major expansion in the involvement of businesses in our schools”. A requirement was placed on all schools to develop partnership agreements with local businesses and ambitious targets were set.  

Fast forward 14 years and Scotland is in the midst of another attempt to “develop the young workforce” and encourage the business community to play an active role in schools and colleges. It would be easy to dismiss the DYW agenda as yet another government intervention. However, the reality is that it represents a golden opportunity to ensure the education system delivers for the economy by putting businesses in the driving seat through DYW groups.

FSB published a report last year which found that one in four smaller businesses are active in schools, with 86% viewing it as a long-term commitment. These firms were involved in a range of activities including work experience placements, mentoring support and jobs – as well as providing direct support to teachers and school staff on the curriculum, course work design and so on.

The research also showed that those who have had no involvement in schools were willing and ready to do so if the process was made easier. As one business owner said:

I definitively think that [an] online database would be really helpful. It could tell small businesses which local schools are looking to get involved and what they are interested in…It would save a lot of time.”

Barriers to Engagement

For businesses in Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian the process of engaging with schools has become significantly easier with the launch of Marketplace – a new online portal to match interested businesses with education. It’s quick and easy to use and enables businesses to control how and where they get involved.

If you’re one of the thousands of smaller businesses in the Lothians looking to take part in work placements or provide careers advice, check out Marketplace.


Barry McCulloch is FSB's Senior Policy Advisor in Scotland

Lobbying & Campaigning from FSB

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