Employer Engagement

Live-streaming Employer Engagement activities

The rise of the student focused webinar

There are plenty of aspects of a comprehensive school/college CEIAG offer that can provide a challenge of budget, planning and delivery. Any Careers Leader will encounter difficulties to overcome to meet any of the Gatsby Benchmarks but the one that requires the greatest collaboration, outreach and organisation is perhaps Benchmark 5 “Encounters with Employers and Employees”. Finding willing volunteers from worlds of work that have some enticement for your learners and those who are able to interact positively with young people takes time, finding a suitable time slot around curriculum needs and their own commitments takes patience and negotiation and helping the learners place the information into context takes skill and follow-up. From the employer’s side there is also much to overcome, which of the multitude of organisations do they work with to co-ordinate their education outreach, how can they reach the gatekeeper in the school/college, how can they allocate precious staff time away from their roles for this sort of activity?

It seems that one of the growing solutions to help solve these complications is the use of live streaming employer engagement programmes. A kind of webinar for pupils, these offer lots of potential benefits for both employers and CEIAG practitioners and a more immediate and collective experience than CEIAG Vloggers.

For a number of years The Big Assembly has been a center point of National Apprenticeships Week and offers an interactive broadcast for schools to join. It’s main selling point is the communal aspect of the event, even though a teacher could be showing it on a whiteboard to a single tutor group, that group of students would be made to feel part of a much bigger event with pupils all over the country all joining in at that moment.

The Webinar itself is a series of short vox-pop type interviews of employees across different sectors recounting their apprenticeship journey interspersed with some awful voice over sections in which someone appears to be struggling with a bad quality phone line to announce various prize draw winners. At over 40 minutes, this would test the attention span of both of its target audience and the poor teacher supervising a group watching it. It is still available (last years version above) on the Workpays YouTube channel but as a historic resource it offers no real benefits for practitioners to go back to after the event to reuse.

Another offering is the WOW Show. This is a joint enterprise between the Edge Foundation, City & Guilds, the B&CE Charitable Trust and the RSA Academies Trust and offers a similar type of broadcast format with sharp insights into different areas of work with, this time, a studio based presenter tying things up. This seems a much more professionally produced effort even if the presenting style is (to my extremely middle-aged eyes) far too Blue Peter and not enough Alfie Deyes to really appeal to younger viewers. The “audience” asking question segments are also a good idea in practice but in reality turn into the children struggling to keep a straight face for long enough to actually get an audible question out and also show the limitations of generic advice in return.

The RSA Academies Trust have also provided a number of resources for teachers to use with their classes either in preparation before watching the programme or to link to their subject in the curriculum. A well prepared teacher (or, to put it another way, a teacher well prepared by their Careers Leader colleague) could use the WOW Show broadcast as they would any other video resource. This significantly reduces the communal aspect of the broadcast, turning it into just another resource to use as teachers see fit. This places the WOW Show offer as much closer to other video based CEIAG resources such as icould or Careersbox. This diminishes the value of the resource as the variety of careers and labour market information available through icould for example just isn’t present to aid guidance and context for learners.

An employment sector also utilising this technology to connect with students is the Construction sector through their Construction Live events. It’s positive that a sector is showing initiative to connect with education and especially a sector that has struggled to provide other connecting opportunities such as work experience and employer visits in the past. Here a Chat facility is the main method for providing interaction with the audience.

Evidence

This is a fairly new trend in CEIAG embracing fairly new technology so research of impact on students seems limited but the Careers & Enterprise Company’s “What Works” series does include a publication on Careers websites which includes those sites utilising videos for CEIAG learning. The evidence relatable to live streams concludes that

Information-based career websites need to exist in the context of a wider offline
careers support program

to have the most impact but also that online support that facilitates communication

can lead to positive outcomes such as gains in career decidedness and self-knowledge, gains in satisfaction with future career prospects, and in career exploration behaviours.

This explains how important the interactive nature of CEIAG live streams and follow up from CEIAG staff in the educational setting are to their success.

To counter those positive findings is evidence from wider technology in Education studies

Which seems to suggest that having delivery from a practitioner in the room helps students attainment rather than experiencing the delivery remotely either at the same time or later. Could this be relatable to CEIAG provision by suggesting that employers ineraction with young people has more value if those employers are in the room?

Convenience or Impact

For employers looking to efficiently use their staff for educational outreach work, CEIAG live streams seem like a win-win provision to be involved with. For a short amount of commitment it is possible to reach many more learners than, for example, a team of employees would at a school careers fair. For schools, also time pressed and perhaps struggling to make links with employers from particular career areas, they also offer convenience and a quick win for providing evidence that they are offering CEIAG activities. The value of such provision though is still to be determined but the available evidence seems to suggest that what value it offers relies heavily on follow-up work in the school and the quality of interaction offered during the broadcast.

 

 

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Finding a solution to the Careers Leader conundrum

Headteachers face a daily barrage of decisions and choices be they to do with staff, curriculum, funding, parents, the community, the list goes on and, at some point over the next few months, the Department for Education expects that one of these decisions will be to nominate a “Careers Leader” for their school. This requirement, with the demand for schools to publish their programme of careers events, was included in both the updated 2018 Statutory Careers Guidance for schools and the wider looking Careers Strategy.

The careers strategy sets out that every school needs a Careers Leader who
has the energy and commitment, and backing from their senior leadership team, to
deliver the careers programme across all eight Gatsby Benchmarks. Every school
will be asked to name this Careers Leader. This requirement will be introduced in
September 2018, by when more information and support will be made available

Since the removal of Connexions funding and the requirement on schools to offer CEIAG back in 2012, schools have responded with a multitude of staffing structures. My experience of CEIAG teams of staff responsible for careers include:

  • A Senior Leader
  • A teacher leading on Careers as a teaching & learning responsibility alongside classroom teaching
  • A non teaching, pastoral member of staff co-ordinating careers provision
  • A contracted guidance practitioner brought in by the school
  • A practitioner from a contracted outside agency who combines guidance and co-ordinator roles
  • A consultant type role from the Multi Academy Trust head office
  • A member of admin staff who is tasked to support the careers team
  • A member of another pastoral team (mentors, house leaders etc) who has some of their timetable dedicated to careers support

or any mixture of the above. The combinations of CEIAG teams vary widely and even when job titles match, the actual duties of those professionals from school to school can differ enormously.

Oversight and tracking of these changes in the careers workforce since 2011 can be found throughout the work of David Andrews. Whether when replying to Parliament or publishing papers considering the future journey of Careers policy (from back in 2013),

While there is evidence that some schools have responded to the new policy by establishing innovative provision that represents an improvement on what was available in the recent past, the overall situation in schools is a deterioration in
the level of careers guidance. Schools are adopting a range of models for
securing access to careers guidance for their pupils.

through his country-wide travels, consultancy and courses he has been consistently abreast of the changes in how careers provision has been delivered for young people. It is from these varied starting points that schools will now attempt to incorporate the Careers Leader job title into their structure.

The 2018 Careers guidance also promised that a job role outline would be published by the DfE to help schools define the role by September 2018. Even before that both the Careers Enterprise Company (CEC) and the CDI have released guidance material and proposed job outlines. The CEC see the roles in schools falling into line with the table below:

careers leaders1

but I think they would be wrong to assume that a “Co-ordinator” type role will disappear. Some schools will name a current non teaching Careers Co-ordinator as their Careers Leader and even change their job title but many though will name a member of SLT as their Careers Leader which still then leaves plenty of Careers work for a Co-ordinator to do as shown by the suggested job description from the CDI.

I put out a poll on Twitter and most of the replies either nominated a non teaching CEIAG lead or a Teacher as their Careers Lead.

Both of these solutions would fit the CDI vision of a Careers Leader being a professional role but those who replied “teacher” will also find themselves in a position where the nominated Careers Leader isn’t actually the member of staff carrying out most of the duties of a Careers Leader. A classroom teacher simply couldn’t fit the work in. As the CDI say though,

It matters less whether the tasks are undertaken by one member of staff or several, or whether the post is filled by a member of the teaching or non-teaching staff, and more that all the tasks are clearly assigned and that the personnel allocated the role(s) are enabled and supported to fulfil their responsibilities effectively

so getting hung up about job titles and responsibilities won’t add much value to CEIAG careers provision in schools. Schools will allocate responsibilities how they see fitting within their budget, pastoral and current staffing structures. Especially at a time when budgets are extremely tight for schools and only going to get worse.

The complete failure to allocate funding that matches the ambition of the Careers Strategy is not suddenly going to disappear just because everyone agrees on a job title and job description. This is not fertile ground on which to sow requests for schools to restructure staffing or find wages for new roles. At the time of writing (March 2018) a quick scan of the careers posts advertised reflect this as such. In the adverts for a 3 day a week non teaching post and a teaching post below, the pay is low for the dedicated role and the teacher would be fitting the duties in alongside leading a department and a teaching timetable.

The Careers Strategy did also come with the promise of funding for training for 500 Careers Leaders which the CEC then set out how this funding would be accessed in their Implementation Plan response.

careers leaders2

Any standardization of CEIAG job roles across schools seems a little way off just yet so I’m not convinced that, between now and September that schools will suddenly all start to coalesce around the same staffing structure for CEIAG. Without funding for capacity, schools will make do and mend with who they have. I would also be wary that the schools that first take up this job title will be those with some form of CEIAG team already in place so I would go further than the CEC plan for Careers Leader training above and bar any school that currently holds a Careers Quality Mark from applying. That would better ensure that the funds were going to schools most resistant or unable to enact quality careers provision until now.

What the CEC and CDI (and the forthcoming DfE) Careers Leader job descriptions do offer though is a uniformity of duty and purpose. If nothing else, they allow Leaders lucky enough to be in post to use those job descriptions to find the elbow room to be able to carry out good CEIAG work in schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EDu Taskforce apprenticeship report didn’t have recommendations for employers so I added some

After writing this blog for all these years, a few returning themes certainly start to emerge. A regular concern I have posted about is the erroneous view (in my opinion) that the low percentages of young people gaining apprenticeships is not down to an awareness issue but due to more complex mix of lack of vacancies & demand outstripping supply, the negative perception of the quality of apprenticeships, employers hiring practices and views favouring older applicants and lack of efficacy in their applications due to their poor networks, work experience and failure to explain their transferable skills. Addressing these issues would take significant investment in student support mechanisms (eg staff) and a culture change in employment hiring so the far easier soundbite for policy makers has always been to bemoan the awareness of apprenticeships in young people.

The position that I disagree with has gained substantive backing with the release of new report from the Education & Employers Taskforce.

This is a piece of work from the researchers who’s previous findings have, I think it’s fair to say, had a substantial impact on the CEIAG policy direction in recent years.

The report uses the following statistic:

Recent government figures have shown that despite the overall number of apprenticeships increasing, the number of under 19s starts have stagnated at around 20%

as a launchpad for examining the methods and practices of schools from which a higher proportion of students do progress into apprenticeships. The Taskforce, quite sensibly, want to amplify those practices and see how expandable they are for all schools. Some of the useful lessons to be learnt are that

In seeking to address the negative attitudes and assumptions young people hold about apprenticeships, the literature suggests that increasing the level of authentic exposure of young people to the apprenticeship route could be helpful.

which is a branch of the previous findings of the Taskforce that employer encounters are beneficial to employment outcomes of learners.

Useful tips to consider when designing school CEIAG provision include altering CV writing sessions by using application form writing frames instead as

Only five of the employers surveyed mentioned using CVs at any point when hiring apprentices, with thirteen instead making reference to an online assessment or
application form which contained a number of write in questions. In our sample of schools, however, CV workshops were still highlighted by the majority of respondents as a method for preparing young people for job applications.

but also more generic recommendations such as promoting higher and degree apprenticeships more, promoting with students at a younger age and raising the profile of apprenticeships with parents. These are all aims which any school Careers professional would agree with and strive for. The survey findings acknowledge the transformative effect good careers work that utilises employers can have

Schools remain, based on the responses given by young people (see figure 1), a key source of information for future possibilities as much as employers. In particular, for those young people who do not have access to personal connection, schools may be major players in raising awareness and broadening aspirations

The report also looks at the desire of young people to want to pursue an apprenticeship

edu apprenticeships1

which, on the face of things, suggests that apprenticeships do not entice enough young people to even attempt to apply for them. What is missing though from this response is the contextual data that show that many more young people apply for apprenticeship vacancies than there are vacancies to begin with

so, even with that low-interest base, the current labour market intelligence shows any young person that securing an apprenticeship is much more difficult than gaining a place at a Sixth Form or FE College. This is acknowledged elsewhere in the report

Demand for apprenticeships from young people far outstrips supply. According to data from the National Apprenticeship Service and the governments FE data library, more than 1.6 million online applicants competed for 211,380 vacancies posted online in 2016

Which makes it odd then that, the report does not mirror the recommendations for schools and include recommendations for employers. So here are the ones which I think they should’ve included to achieve more young people transferring into an apprenticeship before 19.

1. Advertise more apprenticeship vacancies

Because of the above

2. Pay them more

Using current apprentices as role models is a wise method of provision. The Young Apprentice Ambassador Network should be in the toolbox of every school Careers Leader. But if you really want the value of good word of mouth to cascade down from those current apprentices, listen to their own feedback and increase the wages offered.

edu apprenticeships2

3. Make your hiring process more accessible

Careers Leaders understand that it’s their job to increase the employability of young people and that includes making them able to decode and navigate the application process but please, meet us halfway. Many apprenticeship application processes at larger companies are unnecessarily complex from the initial web search (no, vacancies in Doha are not of interest) to the language used. This was highlighted in a recent article by Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS

This could also include having downloadable pdf’s of your application form on your school leaver or apprenticeship website so that practitioners could print these off and use them in a group session.

4. Stop bemoaning the influence of parents

The report includes references to literature, surveys and feedback

Many parents of our generation were brought up during the old YTS days and perceptions have stuck for example parents calling it slave labour. Parents also question the loss of child benefit and many will prevent their children from doing an apprenticeship based on this factor. I recently had a conversation with a parent of a 17-year-old at our 6th form who is stopping her son because of this

that highlights parents as negative influencers on young people thinking about apprenticeships. But excludes data that suggests that attitudes are changing such as the recent Varkey Foundation global survey of parents

 

5. Be honest about your skill requirements & consider new hires instead

Many apprenticeships are not new jobs but training schemes for current employees. As the 2015 Ofsted report “Developing skills for future prosperity” noted

Nationally, considerably more 16- to 18-year-olds apply for apprenticeships
than those aged 25 and over, but far fewer become apprentices. Approximately 40% of the 19,000 learners on apprenticeships at the providers visited were aged 25 and over, whereas only 29% were aged 16 to 18. Most of these older apprentices were already employed in jobs that were converted to apprenticeships.

The Taskforce report also fails to acknowledge this, so the starting point assumption that all apprenticeships were open to school leavers to apply to is a false premise.

The Ofsted report also includes typical employer viewpoints such as

the employers interviewed frequently said that they were reluctant to take a young apprentice straight from school. Two factors dominated their rationale for this.

  • They believed too many 16-year-old school leavers lacked personal
    presentation and communication skills, or gave the impression at interview
    that they were immature and unreliable.
  • They recognised that employing an apprentice required a significant
    investment in time to train them in the generic employability skills and did
    not feel they could afford this.

which shows the hurdles that young applicants have to overcome.

This report and the accompanying sector news coverage paint a simplified view of the issues around young people and apprenticeship uptake which contends that, if only awareness was higher; then more young people would secure apprenticeships. The concern for me is that this view will find only too welcoming a home in the minds of policy makers looking for easy blames and quick fixes. As ever, the actual solution of not just improving awareness but also the employability, cultural capital, application and recruitment efficacy of young people and changing the hiring culture and stereotypical views of employers, is a challenge that would require a much more herculean level of investment, time and effort.

 

The impact of the Your Life STEM campaign

An unexpected arrival in my postbox recently was the Your Life Campaign Impact report

IMG_20180315_092733540

as the 3 year campaign drew to a close in December 2017.

Back in 2014 I blogged that the launch seemed more hype than substance but, as is the case with a number of nationwide careers promotional campaigns, actual provision for young people can be spread thinly across the country and take a number of years to build up a head of steam.

Now though, while the social media accounts are still (at the time of writing) up and the Future Finder STEM job matching site rebranded across to The Female Lead campaign (also run by the ex Your Life Chair Edwina Dunn (actual name Edwina Humby) the YouTube account has been closed, the website 404s and no further activities or events will run under the Your Life banner.

Launched by Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary back in the simpler time of 2014 under the coalition government, the campaign was tasked with the remit of helping to

open young people’s eyes to what studying STEM subjects could mean for their future.

but more specifically to

raise the status of STEM subjects, and increase the number of students studying maths and physics at A level by 50% within 3 years.

This work came under the wider banner of public policy of improving the public understanding of maths and science. This also added the following objectives:

  1. change the way young people think about maths and science by raising awareness of the exciting and wide-ranging careers that studying these subjects can lead to
  2. increase the opportunities for all people and particularly women to pursue a wide range of careers that need skills in science, technology, engineering and maths

The Impact Report details how the campaign approached achieving this by

  • working with ” a team of Emmy Award winning writers” to produce a series of Youtube videos (140 videos produced with 1.5 million views racked up)
  • Organising trips to for school students to STEM employers (I took a group to an Amazon depot under this banner a few years ago)
  • A competition called Formula 100 that “generated hundreds of entries”
  • Releasing the Tough Choices report
  • Designing the Future Finder app and website
  • Media coverage
  • The STEM school Finder website allowing the public to find schools offering STEM A Levels

To help them with some of these initiatives, Your Life engaged the data science company, Starcount, to “develop the right engagement triggers for different teenage audiences” which led their “content strategy” through avenues such as Youtube. It should be noted, that Edwina Dunn is CEO of Starcount, among other business ventures.

To fund this work the Your Life CIC filing at Companies House, details how the campaign received £1,012,090 through to 2016 in funding. The full accounts posted for the period up to February 2017 reported no more such income. All accounts report that the directors received no payment for their time but the 2017 return does detail that

yourlife1

which means that, across the 3 year period, Mrs Humby’s other businesses received £84,300 from the campaign funds.

The value gained from this investment of over one million pounds should be judged on the objectives set. The most clearly measurable is to see if there has been a substantive rise in the percentage of students taking Maths and Science at A Level. Figures the include this period from the Joint Council of Qualifications

a level entries

and Ofqual

yourlife2

show that the percentage of entries in these subjects has barely increased percentage wise. Even the base numbers, at a time of rising populations, don’t show much movement

In 2014 83,200 students took Maths A Level – in 2017 this had risen to 88,830

Biology 2014 – 58,090 and in 2017 fallen to 56,950

Chemistry 2014 – 49,130 and in 2017 – 48,760

Physics 2014 – 33,590 and in 2017 – 33,840

The Impact Report does everything it can to not mention this failure to, well, impact on these numbers preferring instead to focus on social media views. The report is mindful of the giant strides that still need to be taken

Your Life can only go so far. Despite our successes, shifting the dial significantly requires a structural solution

which does elicit some sympathy from me. In the cash starved world of CEIAG provision, a million pounds over three years is a huge amount of money but to achieve the change and impact Your Life was tasked with, it was nowhere near enough to even scratch the surface. Now succeeded by the very similar Year of Engineering, the Your Life campaign shows that Government intervention can be well meaning but is regularly given too tiny tools to tackle too large a job.

 

Bored students at Careers events (part 2)

Part one here: https://fecareersiag.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/a-picture-collection-bored-students-at-careers-events/

 

The girl on the left: “Ah, you’re taking a photo of me I see and I am so not impressed.”

 

“Miss, no WAY!” *hides under coat*

 

 

Chap on the right is thinking, “I’m never coming to this office again.”

 

 

 

Picture bottom left – “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

 

 

 

The boy at the front, turning back seems to be crying out with his eyes for the sweet, sweet release of gentle death (or just the end of period 2) to get him out of there.

 

The girl in the bottom right picture looking over her shoulder!

As previously, putting on Careers events is hard work and to be celebrated for the positive outcomes they achieve. There will always be the odd nonplussed teenager who’s momentary grimace will make it into any quick promo snap. Keep putting on those careers events because we know they work and tell the world about them so the outdated view of careers work in schools becomes exactly that, outdated.

The Cold Spots accountability hole

 

Following on from the previous post on this blog looking at how the non publication of apprenticeship vacancy, starts, registrations and applications data by age will mean an accountability hole when judging the progress of the Careers Strategy and schools guidance documents, this is a sequel post of sorts looking at another data accountability gap that will cause the Careers & Enterprise Company some problems.

The release of the Company’s Cold Spots research in 2015 drew together a number of data sources from other Government departments and quangos to map the weaker and stronger areas of employer engagement focused careers provision across England. This audit was useful as it allowed the Company to focus pilot schemes and target initial provision into the locations that needed it the most.

The Company has recently released a short, 2017 update to that original Cold Spots report that, according to those external data sources, shows a “warming” in career outcomes for young people across England.

coldspots1

This map shows that only one Local Enterprise Partnership area (Thames Valley Berkshire) has regressed and was now returning a higher number of cold spot indicators than in 2015. As the report itself says though, “it is too early to make claims about causality” and this is included for good reason. The original 2015 Cold Spots were based on 9 external data sources

Deprivation indicator:
– % Pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (FSM)1
2013/14
Employer engagement indicators i.e., “cold spots”
– % Employer establishments who had anyone in on work experience2 in the
last 12 months
– % Employer establishments who offered any work inspiration3 in the last
12 months
Outcome indicators:
– % Pupils attaining 5A*-C GCSE results in England 2013 – 14
– % A-levels entered that are STEM4 2013 – 14
– % STEM4 A-levels that are entered by girls 2013 – 145
– % In sustained apprenticeship destinations post key stage 4 (KS4) 2012/13
– % 16-17 year olds NEET (not in education, employment and training), as
reported by LA in June 2015
– % Employers answering: 16 year old school leavers are “poorly” or “very
poorly prepared” for work
– % Employers answering: 17-18 year olds recruited to first time job from
school are “poorly” or “very poorly prepared” for work

The 2016 update continued to use these sources but now the 2017 update finds itself in a quandary as two of those sources (the two employer returns from the UKCES employer survey data looking at satisfaction of school leaver skills & the offers of work experience and work inspiration activities from businesses) are no longer reporting in the same manner. This is due to the closure of UKCES. The responsibility to continue the survey moved to the DfE but the data gathered will be from a smaller sample size (around 18,000 telephone interviews in the 2016 edition vs over 91,000 telephone and face to face interviews in the UKCES editions) leaving the CEC with a dilemma. They need to both show progress on the continuing funded work both in cold spot areas (opportunity areas in Government speak) across the country but also to show the distance traveled from the starting point since the CEC’s inception this data has to be somewhat comparable year on year.

This leaves the CEC relying on GCSE results data and student destination data which are useful outputs to monitor but are one-sided in focusing on the supply side of students entering the workplace. The views of the demand side from employers would not now be comparable across past years.

Thus the recent publication ends with a consultative call for suggestions on which data points to use to achieve this. The CEC should be wary about using data supplied by employer bodies such as the CBI as, historically, this has been much more scathing on the work readiness of school leavers entering the labour market and much more positive about the contribution of business offering experiences to young people. The UKCES returns told a story of employers being much more satisfied with the employability skills of young people and of a significantly smaller amount of engagement provision with education. So the first stipulation for any new data sources the CEC use, would be that they should be from impartial sources. On the flip side to this coin, data supplied by LEPs should also be considered with an arched eyebrow for they will be keen to champion the success of Government funding in their own patch.

It’s also worth pointing out that the improving “warming” outcomes are in direct opposition to survey results from young people who report a lower number of employer engagements last academic year.

Does asking young people what they actually experienced meet the criteria the CEC is looking for?

Another factor for the CEC to consider is that trends in some of these data points are very much at the whim of changeable Government policy. Putting aside the example of UKCES closing it’s doors, using the number of KS4 leavers in sustained Apprenticeship destinations is commendable but since 2015 the Apprenticeship Levy has reshaped that sector, initially caused a drop in overall numbers of starts and begun to grow the provision that is left towards higher and degree apprenticeships and away from the Level 2 Apprenticeships open to 16-year-old GCSE leavers. The Higher Education Funding review could yet again change levels of tuition fees and so impact the desired destinations of young people. Perhaps the case is being made for the CEC to allocate some of its funding to tender for its own data collections and not be reliant on other arms of the State but, at a scale similar to UKCES level data collection, this would need significant investment.

It is the task of the CEC, to make a quantifiable impact on an area of public policy with multiple inputs and multiple outputs and, with their expanded remit in the Careers Strategy, the number of inputs will only grow. Getting the data points right to measure that impact is proving tricky.

Karren Brady & walking the walk on public services

It’s a truth that any nationwide structural improvement in the offer of Careers Education Information Advice & Guidance for school children is going to need to the fundamental support of employers and the business community. Clearly that has been acknowledged by the early work of the Careers & Enterprise Company as they have built a network of Enterprise Coordinators and Advisers and positioned themselves as a professional facing organisation.

Practitioners know that the networks needed for this work are built through finding gatekeepers in other companies with shared goals, working on achievable projects and, sometimes, through being complimentary

to help build a positive image of engaging with education. There are times though when this flattery seems like an easy public relations win glossing over past actions that are not in the spirit of great public concern.

Karren Brady (Baroness Brady CBE) is a regular media contributor to the national debate on the transition of young people into the world of work

sometimes calling out companies for not offering quality work experience but also offering opinions

“One of the biggest challenges employers face is that school-leavers are simply not ready for work. They lack even basic soft skills like confidence, engagement, conduct and punctuality.”

(that do not reflect business survey data)

skills report7

and offering advice to young people on how to be well prepared for the world of work via stakeholders such as Barclays LifeSkills.

Her day job though is Vice-Chair of West Ham Football Club, owned by two majority shareholders David Sullivan and David Gold. In was in this capacity that, in 2016, she completed the negotiations of the “deal of the century” with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) for West Ham to move into the ex-Olympic stadium for a 99 year period. This was the result of a tortured and controversial bidding process. The stadium, after a £272m conversion to be suitable to host both football and other events, cost the taxpayer at the time of the deal £701m. In a complicated deal that includes further add-ons if the club is sold, reductions in fees if the club is relegated and splits of hospitality income and upkeep costs, the bare bones were that West Ham would pay a £15m upfront fee and £2.5m a year in rent. Costs continued to rise for the taxpayer even after the deal was agreed due to further conversion complications.

I have previously calculated that, for every secondary school in England to be funded in line with the costs determined by the Gatsby report, £181m would need to be found each academic year.

Warning: extremely simplified accounting follows:

£701m – £15m, – £5m (rent for 16/17 & 17/18 seasons) = £681m

£681m divided by £181m = 3.76 academic years worth of Gatsby standard careers provision the West Ham deal currently removed from the public purse.

Of course, this is not a cut and dried case. Many pointed fingers at the time at the LLDC for negotiating such a one-sided deal for the taxpayer and the continuing losses that mount up. Others blamed West Ham for taking advantage of the public purse, especially when the revenues of Premier League clubs have never been healthier.

Brady had previously, as a Conservative Peer, voted through Tax Credit cuts for working families and promoted the party line that Labour were profligate with public money (both on Twitter and in person at the 2013 Conservative Party Conference)

while then leading a negotiation that resulted in the taxpayer covering some huge financial losses while the business she advocated for, gained a substantial commercial asset.

Employer engagement is a vital part of Careers work and employers should be congratulated and encouraged to get involved with building the skills of the next generation. What this sort of community work should not be treated as though is a way of keeping up a positive profile while at the same time taking business decisions which do not aid the wider community. This is not a zero sum, either or, game, plenty of Careers practitioners will be working with colleagues from business who not only dedicate time to helping young people but also lead their business with an ethical mindset, the EY Foundation being just one example of the sort of work organisations such as Business in the Community want to encourage. Supporting the Public Sector prepare young people for the world of work is more than just an afternoon at a speed dating interview event.