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Celebrating our Network of Careers Champions 

As we kick off our week recognising and applauding Careers Champions, I wanted to start by offering my thanks to our incredible Network.  Five years ago, we set about creating a national infrastructure to underpin delivery of careers education. This has grown into a powerful network of Enterprise Coordinators, Careers Hub Leads and Enterprise Advisers, all of whom are shaping the future of careers.

We must acknowledge the additional effort and energy that it’s taken over the last year to continue to ensure that careers provision stays at the forefront.  So many people have gone above and beyond to make a difference.  This week we hope to ensure that these unsung careers heroes get the recognition they deserve.

Enterprise Advisers are making a lasting impact.  We have ground-breaking examples in Greater Manchester of Enterprise Advisers taking their schools through a whole school change management programme, resulting in careers being embedded across the curriculum and a key part of the school improvement plan.  And in East Sussex, providing coaching to Careers Leaders to enable them to more effectively engage their Senior Leadership team, elevating careers to a higher status in their school.

Wrapped around the Network is an ever-growing community of employers that are constantly developing and refining their school outreach to ensure that it is impactful and reaches the young people who need it most. 

In the South West, National Grid should be applauded for their ongoing commitment to developing and promoting supported internships for pupils with Special Education Needs.  From this has sprung an outstanding community of practice that is driving SEND focused careers provision, led by a growing number of specialist SEND Enterprise Coordinators. 

For many years SEND pupils have been excluded from work experience and in some cases the labour market once they leave school. But at last these barriers are being broken down, which is testament to the Network drawing together schools and colleges, employers and specialist careers providers to provide opportunity.

The challenges resulting from the Covid pandemic have been far reaching in both education and business.  But from challenge comes innovation.  Over the last 12 months I’ve seen Enterprise Coordinators and Hub Leads relentlessly turn challenge into opportunity, finding new ways to provide young people with careers support and ensure that those in critical transition years didn’t fall through the net. 

Projects in Cumbria, Derby and Luton have done just this.  Seeking out those young people who were without a plan for the next step in their education or career, they provided wrap around support to ensure that they got back on track.

So many of us have had to adapt to work in a virtual capacity which is exactly the approach that the Cornwall Hub are taking for work experience.  Thanks to the Hub Lead and ECs, every Year 10 student will have the opportunity to engage in work experience virtually this year as the team have quickly and adeptly juggled new technology, national and local partners, employer demands, Careers Leader capacity and safeguarding issues to develop a cross county programme.

I think we’ve all developed a newfound respect and admiration for our health service recently.  I was astonished to learn that, despite the pressure they are under, St Thomas’s NHS Trust have taken the time to support the Network, hosting lunch and learn sessions to generate even greater interest in the Enterprise Adviser role and building on the already impressive number of volunteer EAs from within the Trust.

As a whole, the Network is greater than the sum of its parts, ensuring that the consistency of support provided by ECs is reducing inequalities in careers provision.  Day in and day out their work touches on every one of the five themes that are the pillars of our Careers Champions week: Tackling Disadvantage, Leading the Way, Innovating, Connecting with Technical & Vocational Education, Brilliant Young People.

Sometimes invisible, the Network is the engine room in the seismic shift taking place in careers in England.  Often overlooked for the critical role they play, today is my opportunity to say thank you to our Network. 

In my eyes you are all Careers Champions.

Visit today's theme 'Tackling disadvantage' and the nominated Careers Champions: https://careers-champions.careersandenterprise.co.uk/tackling-disadvantage