Back in 2015 the Confederation of British Industry reported that almost three quarters of UK businesses felt that the quality of careers advice needed improving to help young people make informed decisions about future career options.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the shape of careers advice in Cornwall is being transformed thanks to a partnership between business and education that aims to raise the aspirations of young people and open their eyes to the wide range of rewarding careers available in Cornwall.
Called the Enterprise Adviser Network (EAN), the project involves a small army of business volunteers working directly with local schools to help inspire and guide pupils about their career options.
It is funded by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which drives economic growth and job creation in the region, with Cornwall Council and the Government’s Careers Enterprise Company.
Since its launch in 2016, the EAN has recruited almost 60 business volunteers who are working with 40 secondary schools and colleges across Cornwall. Its success has seen the project expand into one of just 20 Careers Hubs in the UK, made up of schools and colleges working together with universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to improve careers education.
One of those is Liskeard School and Community College which recently hosted the Opportunities Cornwall Careers Event, highlighting to its Year 10 pupils some of the current and up and coming employment areas in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Representatives from key sectors spoke to and engaged with students about the opportunities that are available to them, all within the county.
Carrie Holmes, Careers Hub Lead, said: “It was our pleasure to support Liskeard School with their opportunities event. Our goal is to join the dots between business and education, arranging quality visits by employers and inspiring the future workforce. We are really happy to work with a network of schools, colleges and businesses within the county who have plans and ambitions to help us achieve this.”
The Opportunities Cornwall Careers Event was inspired by the LEP’s 10 Opportunities investment prospectus, which highlights growth areas in Cornwall’s economy and is linked to the Government’s Industry Strategy.
Tim Bagshaw, Head of Governance and Operations at the LEP, attended the event. He said: “This was a great opportunity to increase awareness among the students of some of the really exciting industry opportunities in Cornwall. There are a range of sectors that are growing and developing at the moment, from construction to mining and space, where there are real opportunities for young people to get involved, start to find jobs, build careers and look to a very interesting and hopefully dynamic future in Cornwall.”
Students attended 30-minute long sessions hosted by local business people, learning more about each sector and the range of possible employment opportunities available to them within each key area of industry.
The sessions covered industries such as creative, energy, agri-food, tourism, marine, mining, aerospace, e-health, construction and manufacturing.
Alex Lingard, Headteacher of Liskeard School and Community College, said: “One of the aims of the day was to make sure that students understood just what was on their doorstep, not just in the traditional sectors but in the areas that Cornwall is really making a name for itself globally.
“Here at Liskeard, we have been really keen to embed a career ethos within the day-to-day running of the school, so the students have a good understanding of what opportunities are out there for them.”
From Cornish Lithium talking about the future of mining in Cornwall, to the EPIC digital health and wellbeing project discussing the importance of technology in the health sector, speakers engaged and interacted with students using activities and presentations to spark their imaginations.
Dean Kelly, Project Manager for construction company Mace, ran a session that focused on construction as a potential future career opportunity.
He said: “We gave the students a simple exercise to start with, which generated some questions and enthusiasm from around the groups that was great to see. I think the way construction is marketed across the younger generation is extremely important, to make young people aware of all the different professional roles within the industry.”
Lucy Crane from Cornish Lithium was part of the team that came along to speak about opportunities within the mining sector, linking Cornwall’s past with its future.
Lucy said: “The mining industry represents real opportunities for highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs within Cornwall. We had some really engaging conversations with the students, they went from not knowing much about the mining industry at all, to asking some really interesting questions about environmental impact and what shifting to a decarbonised economy would mean for the mining industry.”
Anna Williams, a PR Consultant, led sessions on one of the more traditional employment sectors, tourism, which remains hugely important area to Cornwall’s economy.
She said: “It was amazing to spend time with the students, they all listened and engaged really well and I think they are thinking quite hard about their future. I actually went to Liskeard School, and I think it’s important for students to know that there is so much opportunity for them here in Cornwall. We have so many talented young people going into apprenticeships, or to university, and to have that talent invested in Cornwall is so important.”
I’ve really enjoyed the day. EPIC brought a robot, which helps communicate with people who are isolated. I enjoyed the construction session as well, it was interesting
– Liam Champion
It really broadened my view. I am quite interested in the ocean and surfing and got the chance to learn more about the marine industry. You can even turn your favourite sport into a career, and have fun while doing it.”
I quite like the e-health sector, particular the VR and the robots. Something as simple as a toy cat can help with lots of issues and I would like to learn more about that.
I really enjoyed myself. It’s very interesting to learn about different places that we can work at and still be in Cornwall, to make sure we still have young people in Cornwall
We know from our recent research that children are forming stereotypes at the age of seven. We also know that they are abandoning their aspirational careers between the ages of nine and thirteen.