Careers Drive calls on businesses to pledge the gift of work experience - Form the Future CIC

Careers Drive calls on businesses to pledge the gift of work experience

Form the Future is proud to support Cambridge 2030’s Careers Drive campaign – calling on the Cambridgeshire business community to unite in supporting young people by pledging in-person work experience placements when workplaces and offices are fully open again.

By July 2021, the global pandemic will have deprived thousands of young people, currently in Year 10 and Year 11 in schools across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, of the opportunity to undertake in-person work experience. So, Cambridge 2030, in partnership with Form the Future, Cambridgeshire Community Foundation and Cambridgeshire County Council, have launched the Careers Drive campaign.

Julie Spence OBE, Ambassador for Cambridge 2030 and Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, said:

“Work experience is a crucial part of preparing young people for life after school, helping them gain valuable employability skills, as well as experience that will help guide their future career decision-making. With employment opportunities for school-leavers already severely depressed due to the pandemic, there is a risk that this generation of children will be further disadvantaged without positive support and help.”

There are nearly 17,500 students in Year 10 and Year 11 across the county, many of who would have been reliant on their schools to help facilitate work experience for them in a usual school year. However, with so many workplaces remaining closed and many of the country’s largest employers not planning to open their offices again until the end of the year, the opportunities are severely limited, risking even further disadvantage for the COVID-19 generation of young people.

Janet Harris, Careers Lead at Cambridgeshire County Council said: “We fully support the Careers Drive and our partners in this exciting initiative. We know that all young people have the capabilities to thrive, but just need to be given the experiences to motivate, aspire and build confidence as they transition into the world of work.”

Supporting disadvantaged young people

Those most severely disadvantaged by the lack of work experience opportunities are the 3,847 students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and qualify for Pupil Premium. These young people are most likely to receive most benefit from in-person work experience but they are the least likely to be able to secure work experience placements for themselves.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership has prioritised increasing the number of work experience placements through Form the Future.

Anne Bailey, CEO of Form the Future, said:

“We know that employers have been severely affected and have not been able to offer the same number of work experience opportunities as usual because they have either been closed or staff have been furloughed or are working from home. Some have been able to offer virtual opportunities which are great but just not the same as physically going into a place of work and getting a real sense of what the environment is like and how people work together. As we emerge out of the latest lockdown we need to consider our young people’s futures and support those who have missed out over the last 12 months.”

The Careers Drive campaign is appealing to employers, particularly SMEs that may not previously have considered offering placements, to make a pledge to support young people to gain work experience. Advice and support will be offered by Form the Future to any company that needs it, to be able to set up a meaningful work experience programme.

As an important part of the Careers Drive, Cambridge 2030 is also appealing to employers who wish and are able to provide quality in-person work experience placements for students currently in Alternative Provision (not in mainstream schools). These young people are at greatest risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and, for them, quality work experience can have an even more significant positive impact on their outcomes.

Julie Spence said:

“We recognise that it might not be possible for all companies to offer a full-week of work experience but we are encouraging all companies to please pledge to provide as many days as they can or to partner up with a supplier or contractor to make up a full week.”

Here are the ways that companies can get involved in the Careers Drive:
  1. Offer one-week of meaningful, in-person, work experience at your company or organisation for Year 10 and Year 11 students, before July 2022.
  2. Create a Careers Drive Passport in partnership with your suppliers and contractors to offer one-day experiences to make up a full week which a young person can redeem on dates set by you and your partners.
  3. Donate to the Careers Drive Fund, through Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in covering the expenses associated with work experience, for example, travel costs, subsistence, clothing, or costs associated with caring responsibilities.

All pledges of work experience can be made online through Form the Future – the team will collate the offers and match them with schools. Companies will be able to express a preference to work with schools of their choice but in all cases offers will be made to Pupil Premium students. Make your pledge here.

Donations to the Careers Drive Fund can be made to through the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation here.

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