| Views |

Abdul Bathin is our Regional Lead for the North East Midlands. Last month, he helped facilitate a visit for the Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds to his hometown Leicester, showcasing the amazing work of the Leicester and Leicestershire Careers Hub and the impact it is having on young people.

It’s three years on since we launched the Enterprise Adviser Network in Leicestershire with the former Secretary of State Nicky Morgan. I was therefore delighted to have the opportunity to welcome the current Education Secretary Damian Hinds to Leicester and share the huge progress we’ve made since then in our careers provision.

Accelerated progress
The visit was timed perfectly, just four days before 20 new Careers Hubs were announced across the country. As well as accelerating at pace in all eight Gatsby Benchmarks, we are now one of the top performing Careers Hubs in the country – after launching in September 2018. We introduced the Education Secretary to students and teachers from Beaumont Leys School, a group of local employers, and staff from the Local Enterprise Partnership and The Careers & Enterprise Company. All play a key part in the success story.

Beaumont Leys School are the Careers Hub Lead school and therefore support others in the area to form a community of practice and share ideas. It is clear the Careers Hub Lead role is pivotal for us – and so Gerarde Manley spoke about his team’s success and the journey that lies ahead to maintain momentum.

Schools in Leicestershire are now meeting an average of 3.5 of the Gatsby Benchmarks (average achieved in the area in 2018 was 1.87). The Leicester and Leicestershire Careers Hub is outperforming the national average against four Benchmarks with rapid progress made against Benchmark 5: encounters with employers. We must build on this success.   

Businesses central to success
The employers round the table offered a real-life insight into the value of the Careers Hub model to them, in a city like Leicester. And ultimately what makes it work. As the Education Secretary put it: “every business has a stake in the future of our economy – and widening horizons for young people is a moral imperative.”

It was really inspiring to hear from some of our dedicated Cornerstone Employers who are setting such a great example of how to engage effectively with schools. While developing their pipeline of talent, they are showing young people the application of their learning.

The employers included a local brewing company Everards, East Midlands Airport, Crown Packaging and Dunelm. Rob Allen, a current Enterprise Adviser from Everards, highlighted how valuable the Careers Hub is in opening doors for schools to work closely with business.

I was really proud that we could host the visit at Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) – another Cornerstone Employer – and was just as excited as the kids to get a pitch-side guided tour! The inspiration was tangible.     

The highlight of the day was an interactive panel session where young people had the chance to ask the Education Secretary and employers questions about different industries and how to prepare them for these careers. Among the Year 7-10 students, there were aspiring doctors, beauty therapists, criminologists, accountants – and even politicians. The student interested in politics was very keen to hear about the Education’s Secretary’s unconventional earlier career choices, which involved a stint in a brewing company. This reinforced the idea that young people can take many different pathways to a career.

Well-earned praise and recognition
It was hard not be blown away by the commitment of employers and teachers in the room. The Education Secretary summarised what he witnessed by reflecting on a common response from employers: “We’d like to work with schools, but we don’t know how to.” He then crucially highlighted the missing component. A Hub mechanism.

He said: “with the network of Enterprise Advisers and working closely with LEPs – employers and schools have a focal point to come together and work out the best approach.”  

“The Careers & Enterprise Company and the implementation of the Gatsby Benchmarks provides the infrastructure to deploy and measure these activities and progress. What has been achieved in Leicestershire is exemplary, which has been clear to see today.”

There is a remarkable commitment from the business community in Leicestershire, the LEP and our network of schools and colleges to help drive and improve careers education. This makes me very proud.

Once we can start measuring the progress from the second wave of Careers Hubs, we will see an even stronger transformative effect on careers support across the country.