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Mike Cherry, National Chair at Federation of Small Businesses tells us about the important role that small firms play in careers education.

The economy relies on the workforce of tomorrow to have the right skills and experiences in place and small businesses are at the very heart of that process. Mike Cherry federation of small businesses

The role that small firms play in educating and training the labour market is more important than ever to power the engine that drives the nation.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that there are huge benefits when young people have access to employers. Such engagements later translate into greater long-term prospects for young people and provides employers with a strong labour market and workforce.

Explaining to pupils the potential payback that this early engagement with employers could have on their careers and livelihoods, will surely provide the impetus needed to see them working harder at school.

Small Businesses are at the heart of our communities and engaging with schools and educators is key to this. Almost half of all small firms already engage in some way with schools, colleges and youth groups, bringing positive actions to business, pupils and wider communities.

We are already seeing fantastic examples of this with small firms regularly offering work experience to young people as well as speaking to local schools and fairs.

The Careers & Enterprise Company’s work to help inspire and prepare young people for the world of work and provide effective work experiences is crucial.

It’s also important that we are able to help those who are considering entering self-employment, and therefore inspire the next generation of small business owners.

But more needs to be done to engage small businesses with careers guidance, of which providing work experience and work in the community is critical. Good, impartial careers guidance is also essential for young people to make informed decisions about their future and to reach their full potential.

There are however challenges that are faced when closing the gap in provision of careers activities. For example, high volumes of young people in large towns and cities make it difficult to work with everyone. And conversely in more rural areas there are fewer young people as well as businesses who have capacity to work with pupils.

Therefore, we must all redouble our efforts for this to succeed in the long haul rather than just a short-term fix. Not only do we need to work with existing businesses for this, but new ones too.

FSB members and across small business community are already engaged on multiple levels with individuals and educators, and together their shared drive can encourage, inspire and prepare young people for the world of work.

This latest research from The Careers & Enterprise Company highlights some of the progress and great steps that are being made by small businesses and those in education to Close the Gap