What do Agfa, East Coast Railways, Interserve, Ideal Care Homes and me have in common?
Along with many other businesses in Leeds, of all sizes and from a wide range of sectors, we have all provided volunteers to support children and young people in high quality enterprise and skills development programmes run by the award-winning Leeds Education Business Partnership.
That’s 250 business people like me who have given up their time to engage over 6,500 children and young people in the past year. I have done mock interviews at Farnley Academy and Royds School, mentored groups to set up and run mock businesses at John Smeaton Community College and Leeds East Academy, as well as helping children from Bankside Primary in Harehills make and sell smoothies.
I have found it hugely rewarding to see the difference made by a few hours of giving genuine attention, offering encouragement and advice to a young person. For some, it is the first time someone other than a teacher or parent (and perhaps from what they get off the TV or internet) has brought a glimpse of the real world of work into their lives. Some are from difficult and impoverished backgrounds without the adult role models you and I might take for granted. Others lack awareness of the range of possibilities that exist in the workplace or the confidence that they can aspire to them.
LOL! leedsonline exists to promote collaboration between businesses and organisations in this great city and that must include our schools, colleges and universities. Despite the recession, there are new jobs being created such as for the new Arena and social enterprises are springing up all the time. We have a collective responsibility to make young people in education and those leaving soon aware of all the possibilities that are becoming available.
The employment and education landscapes have changed dramatically with more people seeking work, less centrally provided support for careers advice and changes to work experience provision. If we don’t want to see endemic worklessness rise in pockets of the city and the gap to grow between those with access to opportunities and those without, businesses in Leeds need to collaborate more to contribute to the real world development of future employees and entrepreneurs.
Apart from volunteering, schools are crying out for real or typical business challenges and work projects to help teachers make better links with relevant parts of the school curriculum. You will be helping to enhance employability and forge strong links with the local community. Together we really can make a difference to help young people learn to leap and at the same time gain mutual benefit from networking with like-minded people in business and education.
Why not contact the Leeds Education Business Partnership today on 0113 288 3560, or get in touch if you want to talk about my personal experience.