Virtual work experience opportunities available for secondary school pupils across Warwickshire

Businesses from 16 industry sectors have filmed ten-minute videos for the innovative “Let’s Do Business” Programme which is provided by Warwick-based Career Seekers Direct Limited

Justine Chadwick from the CWLEP Growth Hub (left) with Eva Harrison from Career Seekers Direct. Photo supplied

More than 30 employers are engaging with and providing virtual work experience opportunities for students at secondary schools across Coventry and Warwickshire

Businesses from 16 industry sectors have filmed ten-minute videos for the innovative “Let’s Do Business” Programme which is provided by Warwick-based Career Seekers Direct Limited.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub helped Eva Harrison, MD of Career Seekers Direct, to approach local businesses, ranging from advanced manufacturing to health and social care.

Eight schools including North Leamington School, Shipston High School and schools within the Midlands Academy Trust have already signed up to the online programme which gives students from Years 9-13 the opportunity to hear from employers about the world of work, the skills and attributes which employers value and the opportunities available in their companies.

Pupils listen to the employers talks, answer a set of questions to record what they have learned and provide information to use in job or Higher Education applications.

They can also opt to complete real work tasks set by the employer to develop their understanding of the business in more depth.

The programme, which is part-funded by Coventry University Enterprises and the European Regional Development Fund and has also involved the Federation of Small Businesses and F1 Digital, was piloted successfully with ten Warwickshire SMEs and two schools, and has now been scaled up to 35 employers and is being offered to all secondary schools in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Eva said by giving an hour of their time, employers are able to help local schools and potentially thousands of young people to increase their understanding of what employers want.

“In light of Covid restrictions, there was no work experience last year for students, it is likely to be the same again this year and potentially the way employers engage with students and how students obtain work experience may change forever,” she said.

“With the support of the Growth Hub and the CUE funding, we have been able to get in touch with employers to provide this careers experience.

“The feedback from students has been positive since many of the employers are based in Coventry and Warwickshire and they can see themselves applying for a job there in the future.

“They like the honesty in how the employers present their organisations and they like the fact it is helping them to see a broader picture of future careers rather than being channelled down one avenue.

“We would love more employers to take part – particularly construction businesses – and it doesn’t take much time.

“The programme could be better than traditional work experience where students only go to one place whereas this gives students the chance to find out about a range of industries.”

Helena Wallis, CEO at Stratford-based Heart of England Mencap which is one of the employers in the Let’s Do Business initiative, added: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of working in health and social care in our society and it has also helped young people to think about what they want to get from the world of work – it isn’t just about doing a job but making a difference to somebody else’s life.

“By offering virtual work experience, youngsters can see that there are a wide range of roles available in care settings such as finance, HR or IT which are needed to run a really efficient organisation.

“It is also about building a diverse and inclusive workforce by providing young people with the right training and opportunities to develop and move into bigger roles to achieve their goals and be the best person they can be.

"This programme is a great way of getting those messages across.”

Justine Chadwick, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “This is a really great programme and I have helped Eva with finding employers who would be interested in taking part and it is also a really good way of attracting future employees.

“This highlights the many and varied ways in which the Growth Hub is helping businesses with a whole host of advice and information.

“Career Seekers Direct has also had enquiries from international schools wanting to use the Programme so there is definitely future growth potential as well which is another positive.”

Any businesses interested in taking part, should contact Eva via [email protected]