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Allison Giles is the Careers Hub Lead for Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Allison leads the Enterprise Adviser Network in line with the Strategic and Economic Plan for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. Allison Giles, Careers Hub Lead, Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

For us, Covid-19 has presented a complex and rapidly changing situation. We have been faced with some unique challenges. However, like many of you, we have responded quickly and turned to the virtual working world.

During the lockdown, Careers Leaders from schools and colleges from our Careers Hub – and wider network - met fortnightly, to keep on top of employer’s insights on the changing employment landscape. While the focus was on recruitment and training challenges due to Covid-19, we  also looked at the opportunities and resilient sectors. 

Our network of local employers such as Three, Virgin Media, Bayer, 51 Degrees and some of our Cornerstone Employers such as Westcoast and Vodafone provided essential insight and data.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP is supporting us during the pandemic with the latest economic and labour market intelligence  to inform our conversations with the Network including the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Covid-19 recovery reports and the business insights survey (to be published soon).

This has revealed positive information about our resilient sectors such as food retail, which we are cascading to our careers leads and young people, to support students whose destinations may be at risk.

We have  also focused on cascading the CEC training around Benchmark 1 - A stable careers programme, which has been reflected in our schools and colleges outstanding results in their Compass reports. But most importantly in their commitment to ensuring a robust careers strategy and plan for their schools and colleges.

We have fantastic schools and colleges in Berkshire, and they have been instrumental in supporting each other and learning through these meetings about how to plan and create a strategy, how to develop Benchmark 3 - Addressing the needs of each pupil and support positive destinations; Benchmark 6 - Experiences of workplaces; and how to use Compass + as a strategic tool.

Special thanks goes to the lead Hub school Sandhurst School as well as The Holt School, The Downs School, and Maiden Erlegh School.

We have also been able to promote SEND education in mainstream schools via these meetings helping to understand the Careers landscape, key career challenges for young people with SEND, the importance of understanding students with additional needs and their families to ensure that we are able to provide the most appropriate support to them and our employers, thanks to Talentino!,  Brookfields School and the Castle School. 

In July we held an Enterprise Adviser and Careers Leader meeting, where our CEO, Alison Webster, talked about responding to Covid-19 and the implications for Thames Valley Berkshire.  The session focussed on supporting EAs and Careers Leaders with their next steps for progression in their school or college.  We also conducted a school survey to inform areas of need and to help us best support our schools and colleges. 

To support the  recovery, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP has recently launched its new portal - Berkshire Opportunities - which has a huge focus on skills. The portal is the area’s premier gateway to finding out about jobs, apprenticeships and Further Education and Post 16 courses as well as local career path options. 

This will help young people of all ages, but particularly those transitioning post 16, and allow teachers, parents and carers to access information and opportunities.

Our network has promoted The Careers & Enterprise Company's My Choices event, which took place on the 3rd of August and continues to promote the information and videos on our social networks.

In order to provide ongoing support to our schools and students transitioning in 2020/21, we have secured additional funding from the CEC. The funding will support:

  • the development of Berkshire Opportunities with information about workplace opportunities and targeted information for different audiences working in partnership with key stakeholders such as DWP, NCS and Local Authorities
  • outreach sessions delivered by Pathway CTM and accompanied by an employer ambassador. These sessions will support students across years 11, 12 and 13 where teachers are concerned students may not have an appropriate destination due to having six months away from face to face education; may not have secured an appropriate destination or who are vulnerable / potentially NEET; who require additional awareness on progression routes; or who require additional transitional support.

We are taking full advantage of the opportunity provided to us by  CEC for additional webinars to create Berkshire Employer Insight events for students. These will be developed with Pathway CTM and we’re super excited to get these off the ground soon. Keep an eye out on our social media @BerkshireEAN

If you would like to learn more about any of our programmes then please click here. If you would like to join our Enterprise Adviser Network and support a school or college in Berkshire and ultimately young people please click here. We’d love to welcome you to the team.