Walpole and Careers & Enterprise: Connecting schools with luxury businesses

Thursday 22nd February saw the launch of Walpole’s newest programme in association with The Careers & Enterprise Company: a national network that connects schools and colleges, employers and business to create high-impact careers opportunities for young people. 

Walpole’s partnership with Careers & Enterprise will connect British luxury businesses with their local schools to show how the luxury sector and, more specifically, jobs within ‘making’ can be a real career choice for young people, as well as to begin a conversation about jobs and skills. This is a hugely important topic for Walpole and the wider business community as research shows that four interactions with business throughout a pupil’s time at school will reduce the possibility of their becoming NEET by five times – as well as ensure a future talent pipeline for our industry.

This launch event, held at The Goring, took the form of a roundtable with key Walpole members and representatives from Careers & Enterprise. The issues discussed are outlined below:

–  There is a lack of applications in manufacturing and making roles from British people, leading to a talent shortage. Our research suggests that this situation will be exacerbated by Brexit, as there will be fewer EU workers to fill the gap.

– There are practical skills challenges – applicants don’t have the skills or experience for roles because of a lack of suitable and useful training courses; many technical courses at colleges have been closed across the country.

– There is also a missing link between the education system and the needs of business; the education system is placing less of an emphasis on roles which involve working with hands because of a focus on league tables and academic results.

– There is a perception that some further education courses leave young people in debt and with limited careers opportunities.

– There is also a poorly perceived value and negative terminology around craftsmanship, retail, and hospitality roles, as well as negative associations around vocational training and work from young people and their circle of influence including parents, teachers and peers.

– The approach to teaching and learning can be one dimensional, and is seen as excluding people who learn kinetically or visually.

– Government apprenticeship programmes are viewed as ‘not working’.

Walpole members attending the roundtable discussed best practice and how they are trying to engage with young people and plug the skills gap:

Church’s: hired someone from education to design and manage their programmes. They work directly with local schools and colleges to tell the story of the brand and build the profile of working with the company. They also provide maths and English tutoring on a Friday afternoon to ensure all of their workforce have basic literacy and numeracy skills up to GCSE standard.

Iconic Hotels: work with local schools include primary schools where they teach children basic skills – ina fun, accessible way – such as how to lay table and make a bed, as they discovered that many young children don’t learn these skills at home. At senior school level, the company runs interview and CV training sessions.

Linley: their summer programme enables students in further education to have bench time; many students in furniture making weren’t having practical bench time to make things with their hands – it was all theory.

A brief overview from Careers & Enterprise can be read here: Walpole and Careers and Enterprise Company Slides

For more information on this programme, and how to get involved, please contact Charlotte Keesing.