Local business leaders and leaders in schools met for the first time at a round table dinner this week (30 October) for the opportunity to discuss how they can work collaboratively to provide mutual benefits to schools, students and businesses across Leicester and Leicestershire.
The event, organised by Ian Guyler Business Consulting, East Midlands Chamber and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership’s Enterprise Adviser Network was the first of its kind, providing a platform for business leaders and heads of local schools to come together and develop an understanding of each other’s worlds, at a leadership level in their respective sectors.
A range of discussion topics were covered including how to improve engagement between the worlds of business and education and guests were asked to highlight what currently works well, what doesn’t and what are the priorities.
The main concerns highlighted by businesses included a lack of passion from young people about some sectors, simply because they don’t fully understand the opportunities that sector can offer.
Businesses agreed that for entry level roles they are more interested in a positive attitude and a willingness to learn new skills than they are in academic qualifications.
From the educator’s perspective they would welcome business role models to come in to schools and work with students directly. Businesses can learn a lot from working with young people and this activity can change attitudes towards them. In addition, the employer can spot talent for their future workforce.
Ian Guyler said: “In my role I meet many different business and education leaders. I can see there is a clear need for connection between education and business but there are a lot of perceived barriers that stop relationships being built.
“I believe there is room to do more to open the channels of communication and create an understanding of needs from schools to business and business to schools.”
Gerarde Manley, Careers Hub Manager at the LLEP, said: “We are working hard to solve the skills challenges faced by business and the need for schools to provide high quality careers advice through our Enterprise Adviser Network. The programme matches business volunteers, who are passionate about connecting young people to the world of work, with school leadership teams, to shape future enterprise education and career aspirations within schools.”
Mandi Collins, Principal at Thomas Estley Success Academy Trust, said: “Schools and businesses are not clear what the communication routes are for each other. I attend various meetings with other school leaders, and this provides a great opportunity to share ideas about projects and programmes for student and business engagement.
“We need a forum where businesses can put forward ideas to be delivered in schools that fit within the curriculum timetables. These can be shared at high level meetings making engagement in to schools easier.”
“Mandi’s thoughts were echoed by Kevin Routledge of Leicester Riders.
Kevin added: “Cultural differences between the sectors seem to lead to difficulty in getting traction in communication between business and schools. An event with the intention of benefiting school children that Dr Nik Kotecha and I put on at the Morningside Area had been difficult to attract interest from schools”.
Ian Guyler stated: “This could be driven by the currently low number of working relationships between business leaders and school leaders.”
Mandi went on to say “Working together can range from offering 15 minutes to speak at a school’s assembly or working with small groups of students during lunch breaks. For schools offering vocational qualifications they would love to see businesses coming into schools to support the delivery of teaching. These longer-term commitments can reap great rewards for businesses who want to open the eyes of students to their sector.”
Chris McQuade, Operations Manager at PCS Systems, added; “As an IT expert I have been able to build a great relationship with my local school by setting up a project with students to build a website. All the design and content belong to the students and it’s great to develop their skills that one day they can use in a real job.
“This project has evolved into some really cool activities with virtual reality which the kids love. We can go out to a business and film which is a great way to get the world of work and industry in to the classroom. A great example would be a manufacturing business where we can film the process of creating a product and the students see the whole process through virtual reality without leaving the classroom. It’s a really exciting time to get involved and showcase industry and business to young people to help shape their career goals and aspirations for the future.”
The evening concluded with agreement that a fantastic opportunity has been created to build stronger relationships between business and school leaders.
The event took place at Leicester Racecourse as part of Leicester Business Festival 2019.
For further information about getting involved in future events please contact Ian Guyler at email@example.com
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