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Businesses say working with schools helps close skills gaps

29 Aug 2023

  • Survey of 1,149 business professionals shows 89% say working on frontline of education with teachers is good way to close skills gaps.

  • 89% say close relationship between business and education a way to improve UK growth.

Nearly nine in ten (89%) business professionals who volunteer their time in schools and colleges say business involvement in education is a good way to close skills gaps.

The survey comes as the latest recruitment report from the British Chamber of Commerce says nearly four in ten firms (79%) trying to recruit are struggling to find people with the right skills.

These business professionals also say the connection between education and employers is a good way to boost the economy - 89 per cent say a close relationship between business and education is a way to improve economic growth.

The new survey, by The Careers & Enterprise Company, polls the views of 1,149 business professionals – called Enterprise Advisers (EAs) - who work closely with schools and colleges across the country helping develop high quality careers education programmes. Nearly 4,000 EAs are now working with the education sector nationally.   

Eighty four per cent say business engagement with education is a good way of improving the diversity of the workforce – another key boardroom challenge.

EAs say working with the education sector has a real impact on outcomes for young people. More than seven in ten (72%) who have been in the role for three plus years say students are now better prepared for the world of work.

More than three in five (63%) say the awareness of apprenticeships and technical pathways in schools and colleges has increased. That number increases to 72 per cent for those who have been working with the education sector for longest (3+ years).

EAs say the role is an effective and efficient way for business to engage with the education sector and that their organisation benefits.

Nearly four in five (78%) say the EA role is a cost-effective way for business to engage with the education sector, this rises to 84 per cent who have been in post for three years or more.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of those in the role for three years or more say their employer has recruited apprentices from local schools as a result of their engagement – up 77% on the overall number last year.

At a time when retention has become an increasingly important strategic issue for many organisations, EAs say their role working with schools and colleges in their local community enriches their current career and brings a strong sense of personal fulfilment:

  • 63% say it gives them a sense of purpose
  • 62% say it has increased their network
  • 80% are committed to continue the role; 79% would recommend it to someone else.

Oli de Botton Chief Executive of the Careers & Enterprise Company said:

“As businesses look to tackle skills shortages and diversify their work force, there is real momentum behind school outreach work. A large and increasing number of employers are forging relationships directly with schools and colleges. And this outreach is increasingly leading to intake.

“We can say with confidence that when employers engage with schools with purpose – getting involved early – the work makes a difference to young people and delivers business benefits.

“Businesses say working with the education sector is helping them develop talent pipelines, close skills gaps, increase diversity, and attract job and apprenticeship applicants.

“This work matters. Young people can be inspired about their future and employers can access and even shape their future workforce.”

Enterprise Adviser Survey - Insight Briefing

The Enterprise Adviser (EA) survey was run in 2023, exploring the impact of the EA role on schools, colleges, employers and young people.

Read the briefing

Learn more about Enterprise Advisers

Enterprise Advisers were introduced to help demystify the world of work to education leaders and ensure careers education remains reflective of the fast-changing labour market. 

Learn more