Posted by

Marcus Mason, Head of Business, Education and Skills, BCC

14 Mar 2016

This week Chambers across England are delivering a number of Your Future careers events to inspire pupils about their future careers choices. With 21 events planned over the next five days, we’re expecting to support over 8,000 young people during the course of Apprenticeship Week.

The Your Future project is being delivered at scale, with 32 Chambers of Commerce delivering a total of 250 careers events for 70,000 young people aged 14-24. This activity, led by St Helens Chamber and supported by the Skills Funding Agency, has already supported over 15,000 young people to inform their career options.

When I visited a recent Your Future event in Surrey, I was bowled over by the sheer number and variety of businesses present. The college hall was packed to the rafters with a wide range of businesses who had interactive stalls helping provide an insight into different sectors. On arrival, students would discuss their career interests and be pointed to relevant stalls where they could find out more information. Public sector employers and higher education providers were also present to make sure students received a rounded view of different career options.

Your Future careers events pride themselves on having ‘real’ businesses in attendance, to show young people tangible career routes that they can aspire to. Businesses have risen to the challenge and engaged with this programme – so far over 500 firms have taken part in the events. Career routes such as apprenticeships are sometimes perceived as more difficult for young people to navigate than the usual well-trodden route to university or college. We think there is no better way to counteract this than providing the opportunity for students to interact directly with employers and existing apprentices.

The Your Future events are part of the Chamber Network’s Bridging the Gap between Education and Business campaign. This campaign is driven by the need to tackle the persistent issue highlighted by businesses that young people often leave education without the skills and attitude needed for them to thrive in the workplace. Our Bridging the Gap campaign saw the launch of a new membership offer for schools and colleges in 2015 called Young Chamber, which is now live in 16 Chambers of Commerce. Young Chamber membership provides services to schools and colleges to help them connect with their local business community. Other activities include the launch of our Business and Education Summit - a unique annual event where educators and businesses can interact and hear from expert speakers and best practice (check out last year’s list of speakers here). All our activity is underpinned by the BCC’s research outputs such as our Business and Education Survey, our recent report on partnerships with STEM employers, and the BCC Workforce Survey.

What we have found so far, through Your Future careers events and other activities, is that by leveraging the power and connections of the Chamber Network we are beginning to increase trust between business and education, leading to long lasting and productive partnerships that work for both sides.

Do get in contact with your local Chamber of Commerce to find out more about how you can get involved at a local level.