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‘Overlooked and left behind’: Inspire!’s Response

Students from LaSWAP work on their maths skills with an employee volunteer from UBSToday marks the publication of the House of Lords Social Mobility Committee’s report, ‘Overlooked and left behind‘, which looks at the myriad issues surrounding the transition from education to the working world. Inspire! are thrilled to see the Committee engaging with this subject on such a thoughtful level.

As an education business partnership, Inspire! exists to help local young people understand their options and leave education with the necessary skills to find and follow the path that’s right for them. We do this by opening doors to the working world: bringing students into contact with employee volunteers from a huge range of sectors and backgrounds; organising work experience placements to meet students’ needs and interests; and providing extra support to those following less ‘traditional’ routes to work.

We start early, introducing key work-related concepts and skills at primary level through our Work Week and iDiscover programmes. Both projects provide working role models for every pupil in a primary school – especially important for those in workless households, who need extra support to aspire to excel in a professional context. As the Education & Employers Taskforce has consistently proven, the more contacts with employers a young person has, the higher their future earnings will be: these programmes can have a huge impact in helping pupils escape the poverty trap and lead fulfilling future lives.

As the Committee’s report makes clear, experience of the workplace is crucial to gaining the skills required to succeed in later life. By providing tailored, supported work experience placements to students across Hackney and Camden, we help level the playing field for those without the social capital to secure these through family connections. Our work experience service includes the provision of custom job descriptions and preparation workshops for students, ensuring they get as much out of their time in the workplace as possible.

Understanding, but standing apart from, the education system is a huge advantage to education business partnerships, enabling us to provide impartial CEIAG (Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance). This is particularly important to students considering ‘non-traditional’ progression routes, as schools are often ill-equipped to navigate these fiercely complex pathways. Our ‘club’ model to support such students has had great success in helping young people understand and access vocational qualifications – and to see that these routes are just as valid and worthwhile as the ‘traditional’ academic route that leads, inescapably, to university.

We hope that many of the Committee’s recommendations will be implemented. The transition to working life is currently – for many young people – confusing and stressful. The principles embodied by education business partnerships can help shape a fairer system for all.

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