Careers Column 7: Education is everyone's business
Throughout the summer our expert Advice Team is running a special Careers Column in the Gloucester Citizen, Gloucestershire Echo and Forest Citizen, offering advice to young people and their parents on the important factors to consider when making decisions about their education and future careers.
If you didn't catch it in the paper, don't worry - we will be posting the articles here on the GC news page every Wednesday.
Read the full article below or click on the image to see it as it appears in the newspaper.
Education is everyone’s business
What works well for employers when working with education providers?
By Duncan Willoughby, Advice and Guidance Co-ordinator
Gloucestershire has 28,000 businesses, of which 98% are classified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), employing 250 or less people. These businesses employ around 289,000 people, 86% of which live within the county. It is anticipated that during the period 2012 to 2022 in all local employment sectors across the county, 130,000 jobs will need to be filled at all levels.
These headline statistics reinforce the importance Gloucestershire College places on developing strong and sustained relationships with businesses in Gloucestershire at various levels, but particularly with SMEs. Nowhere are these relationships more important than in creating work experience, placement and industry mentoring opportunities that provide so many young people their early insights into the world of work.
In a 2015 British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), survey of 3,000 UK business leaders, 79% stated that work experience is vital for equipping young people with the workplace skills they need. However, employers often struggle to provide work experience opportunities, and 36% of those surveyed said their own firms offered no work experience of any kind.
This points to a disconnection between what educational providers can offer to the labour-market, in terms of eager and talented young people, and the opportunities for them to gain exposure to the real world through realistic workplace experience.
Soft skills employers in Gloucestershire say they want from prospective employees
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Ability to work under pressure
- Commercial awareness
Source: GFirst LEP
Aware of the range of challenges businesses face in providing work experience, Gloucestershire College has developed various creative and innovative ways to engage with businesses in non-traditional ways. An excellent example of this is the Chefs’ Forum Academy, a collaboration with The Chefs’ Forum which aims to train the top chefs of the future.
Launched in January, the initiative gives students the opportunity to work alongside Michelin starred chefs from a range of hotels and restaurants in the region, through regular master classes, shadowing opportunities, demonstrations, and inspirational coaching.
Paul O’Neill, Head Chef at Bristol’s Berwick Lodge and Roux Scholar, has led four masterclasses with professional cookery students this year. He said:
“I really enjoyed working with the students, it is really rewarding to see them implementing their own ideas and philosophy into menus. It is great to teach them about seasonality and different flavour combinations – they are a very talented group”
This fusion of expert teaching with industry excellence enables students studying at GC to stay at the cutting edge of the industry, giving them an idea of what a career in hospitality would look like, as well as the chance to build fantastic industry connections.
GC student, Linzi Moulder describes her experience of the Chefs’ Forum Academy so far as “inspirational”. She says:
“I am really enjoying The Chefs’ Forum Academy sessions at college - it is great to learn different cooking techniques and skills from top chefs in the surrounding area.”
The college also works in partnership with other local colleges and providers of Higher Education as a participant in the European Social Fund Funded, ‘Education Developing Gloucestershire’s Employability’ or ‘EDGE’ project.
Over the next 12 months, the project will engage at least 450 of Gloucestershire’s micro, and SME businesses to help broker placements and internships, enabling 575 students and graduates to gain essential industry experience. Such a targeted approach will enable our students to access structured and rewarding work experience relevant to their studies and their future employability.
Gloucestershire College prides itself on its strong connections with local business and in supporting the needs of the local economy. It is through these pioneering collaborative initiatives that GC students are well placed and equipped to join the local workforce of the future. Find out more at www.gloscol.ac.uk