Anecdotally, we all know that careers education matters. Exposure to different types of careers helps to broaden horizons and gives a proper understanding of the world of work and what is required to succeed. However, for the first time, research, conducted by Education and Employers, has demonstrated a link between young peoples’ engagement with employers and how well they do in their GCSEs.

The research, Motivated to achieve, found that students who had careers sessions with employers were slightly more likely to exceed their predicted GCSE grades. These students also showed improvement in terms of their confidence and attitude to school. 

These findings build on past research from the same charity, which showed that employer engagement also reduced the likelihood of individuals becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) by up to 81%.

Back in 2013, when youth unemployment levels had peaked at one million, we recognised that employers had an important role to play in engaging with schools to help reverse this trend. We called on our members to sign up to Inspiring the Future, to make themselves available to schools to deliver careers insight talks and CV and interview workshops, resulting in more than 2,000 sign ups.

We also very much welcomed the establishment of The Careers and Enterprise Company in 2015, set up to help link schools and colleges with employers, to ultimately improve the prospects of young people. We formally went into partnership with The Careers and Enterprise Company in 2016, to support the expansion of the Enterprise Adviser Network across England. Enterprise Advisers are senior professionals from the world of business, who are matched with a secondary school or college to help them improve their careers support for young people.

This is a strategic, voluntary role that involves working with careers leads and senior leaders from the schools to develop their careers education strategy and improve their links to local employers. As HR professionals, with an understanding of current and future labour market opportunities and challenges, experienced CIPD members are particularly well placed to become Enterprise Advisers.

A recent evaluation published by The Careers and Enterprise Company shows that the Enterprise Adviser Network is working well for the schools involved. The vast majority said that they had helped the school to improve their careers strategy and three quarters said that they had a positive impact on the number of encounters with employers and employees, which we know matters when it comes to young peoples’ future prospects.

Insights gathered from the Enterprise Advisers that we have referred also show that this programme is having a positive impact on the volunteers and the organisations that they represent. As well as being able to see the valuable contribution they were making to the school, many of the volunteers reported that they were able to take back learnings from the programme to their place of work. These include implementing changes around the perception of apprenticeships in their organisations and encouraging more engagement with young people throughout the business.

To date we have referred more than 1,000 individuals to the programme, representing a third of the Network. However, many schools remain unmatched and we need more people to sign up, particularly in London, where last year the Mayor announced the expansion of the Network to support state secondary schools, Pupil Referral Units and Further Education Colleges in every London borough. We’re already seeing the positive impact this programme is making and we want to see every young person coming through the education system have equal access to the opportunities that an Enterprise Adviser can bring to a school.

By Katherine Garrett

Find out more and express interest in becoming an Enterprise Adviser
Sign up to deliver a careers talk in a school via Inspiring the Future

More on this topic

CIPD Viewpoint
Essential skills

Explore the CIPD’s point of view on essential skills, including recommendations for employers

Skills development in the UK workplace

Understand what we mean by skills in the workplace, UK skill levels and the government’s skills policy.

Thought leadership
COVID-19 has reduced investment in skills and learning but also prompted organisations to be more future focused

Lizzie Crowley examines the results from CIPD’s Learning and Skills at Work Survey 2021, and discusses how the world of work will change after the pandemic

More thought leadership

Thought leadership
‘Tech savvy’ HR practice

How does becoming ‘tech savvy’ improve your professional standing and the HR practice in your organisation?

Thought leadership
Are the barriers to social mobility being addressed in the workplace?

Research shows less than 1 in 10 organisations are focusing on improving social mobility at work. Dr Jill Miller, the CIPD's senior policy adviser on diversity and inclusion, discusses how employers can take action

Thought leadership
Putting people professionals on the road to net zero

Should there be more discussion around net zero? Marek Zemanik, Senior Public Policy Adviser at CIPD Scotland, lays out a sustainable path ahead for employers

Thought leadership
Building an evidence-based people profession

We all know that being evidence-based helps us make better decisions, but how can we turn this into a reality?