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Thank you and goodbye

This week I am standing down from The Careers & Enterprise Company after 5 years as CEO. It has been an honour to work with schools, colleges, employers and local organisations to help young people discover what they love to do and make the vital transition into the world of work. 

I am proud that so many have taken control of their futures with our collective support. We have helped to create a landscape where 3 million – 80% of – students across England now regularly meet employers to access inspiration and opportunities. The most deprived regions of the country – our original ‘cold spots’ – are among the highest performing in the country in terms of careers education. It has been quite a journey from our start-up days in 2015 with no office, team or computers.

The highlight and greatest privilege of this role has been meeting young people who have told me about the transformational impact on them: new career plans, higher grades, transformed aspirations. Many have gone on to work for employers they met along the way, all are forging more confident paths into the next stage of their lives. 

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this experience. To our LEP partners who co-created our national network and the pioneering Careers Hubs that now cover almost half of the country’s state secondaries and colleges and exemplify the best in careers support. To the 230 Cornerstone Employers, 2500 Enterprise Adviser volunteers and thousands of Careers Leaders who form such a formidable partnership between education and employment and anchor the work in schools, colleges and businesses across the country. To our provider partners for your constant innovation in how that support is best delivered – from individual mentoring to stadium-scale kit car races. To government for its enduring support. To my wonderful board and the team I will miss so much – you are family. And thank you to the Gatsby Foundation for setting a new gold standard for careers excellence which enables collaboration on a national scale and ensures no one in education (I hope!) associates Gatsby with F Scott Fitzgerald anymore.

Although it is hard to imagine missing the next phase of evolution, it is time for someone else to take the helm and use the building blocks we have put in place to help address the extraordinary challenges now facing young people. The partnership between our employers and Careers Leaders will, I know, continue to deliver the mission in a resourceful and innovative way that responds to this evolving context. I take confidence from the fact that so many of our employers are already rallying to provide virtual engagement – exemplified by Our Week of Work which was accessed by almost 100,000 young people – and by the fact that Careers Leaders across the country are supporting young people with newly uncertain transitions into the workforce.

John Yarham, our wonderful deputy CEO, will continue to lead the organisation - as he is now during my maternity leave - and the board will begin a search.

I am taking up a new leadership role at Makers in September and look forward to joining the team there. I feel fortunate to join a group with such strong values and a commitment to changing lives for the better. There is much similarity between The Careers & Enterprise Company and Makers, both organisations set on helping people find work they love.

I know this is just the start of the story for CEC. I will be cheering from the sidelines in the next phase of growth and will of course remain an Enterprise Adviser. Our little son is now 7 months. He’s not quite ready to for extensive engagement with the world of work, but the moment he is talking…