The education charity Future First has been awarded more government funding to extend its work improving the career ambition and employability skills of state school students locally.
The money from The Careers and Enterprise Company will give 25,800 students in 85 state schools and colleges nationwide multiple encounters with the fast changing world of work by linking them with former students in work or higher education who can act as inspirational role models.
Local schools taking part include Marsden Heights Academy in Brierfield, Pendle Vale College in Nelson, Shuttleworth College in Padham and Thomas Witham Sixth Form in Burnley.
The alumni volunteers will provide employability workshops, networking opportunities and advise on the skills needed to succeed in working life.
The new funding of £279,000 will extend Future First’s existing work in the government’s 12 opportunity areas to other regions of low social mobility where careers advice is lakcing, including Lancashire.
Matt Lent, chief executive of Future First, said: "Students cannot be what they cannot see. It is essential to open students’ eyes to the breadth of work opportunities available. Alumni who have a similar background, perhaps even sat in the same desk, have a transformative effect on broadening the horizons and raising the aspirations of young people."
Future First research shows alumni can transform students’ motivation by acting as relatable role models grounded in the community, showing current students that ‘people like me’ can succeed. The scheme aims to sign up 8,500 volunteer alumni in a diverse range of fields for assemblies and workshops, work experience and intensive world at work days which will broaden students’ work horizons and motivate them to engage in their own learning.
School staff will be trained how to successfully harness alumni experience and skills to support current students, meeting each school’s individual needs to build a sustainable alumni network of hundreds of employees and employers.
The funding from The Careers and Enterprise Company, set up by the government in 2015 to transform careers support and guidance for young people, comes at a time when schools are required to improve focus on careers provision and ensure that young people have access to the employer encounters they need to prepare for their futures.
Claudia Harris, chief executive officer of The Careers and Enterprise Company, said: "The research shows that the most important thing with role models is that they are relatable, that a young person looks at that working adult and thinks, yes that's a path that I can connect to.
"Schools and colleges have access to an amazing network in their alumni, people who feel passionately about the young people in those schools and colleges so why wouldn't they take advantage of it….making sure that all young people get access to those relatable role models we know make all the difference."