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This year’s Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) ‘Leading the Way’ conference brought together leaders from business with leaders from schools and colleges for the first time at the annual event.

The Careers & Enterprise Company played a leading role in helping ASCL to bring the business leaders to the conference, welcoming them to a working breakfast on the opening day. The early morning event also provided an opportunity for these delegates to meet and hear from ASCL President, Carl Ward, and ASCL General Secretary, Geoff Barton.

A key element of the breakfast event was a panel discussion chaired by local Enterprise Coordinator, Hilary Smyth-Allen. The discussion generated a lot of debate about the opportunities for schools to take advantage of the support available from business, aligned to the need for young people to develop transferable skills for a future world of work that will be ever-changing and offering very few jobs for life.

Strengthening the connection between schools, colleges and business

There were similar clear messages from key note speakers, including Carl Ward, who highlighted the enduring alliance between education and business and Paul Drechsler, President of CBI. Paul also called on schools and businesses to work with us to help young people to get the work encounters that they need.

In addition to running an exhibition stand at the conference, we facilitated four breakout workshops for delegates on themes associated with careers support – apprenticeships, work experience, SEND and retention and recruitment of staff. All four of the workshops were over-subscribed and had great feedback from participants.

Highlighting the impact of encounters with employers for young people

On the first day of the conference, our Chair, Christine Hodgson and CEO, Claudia Harris took part in the main panel discussion. During the discussion, chaired by TES editor, Ann Mroz, Christine and Claudia made it clear that both business and education win when they work together and that young people can be significantly impacted by encounters with employers.

Against the backdrop of the government’s Careers Strategy, the conference marked a defining moment in bringing together school and college leaders with leaders from businesses and the community. Both groups now have a vital role to play in working together to ensure that all young people get the start to their working lives that they need and deserve.