Employer support provides insight into a future career
Whether it happens during school, further and higher-education or through a young person’s own initiative, gaining experiences of the world of work can bring countless benefits.
From providing insight into different industries, job roles and broadening aspirations to developing essential skills and building their networks, these experiences can be hugely important for young people.
Evidence shows the importance of enabling these opportunities during early adolescence. A publication from the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network, set out ten evidence‐based principles that should underpin national career systems. One of which states that career services are most effective when they ‘involve employers and working people and provide active experiences of workplaces’.
Whilst the benefits for young people are clear, the opportunities to get involved need to be available across the country.
You cannot underestimate the importance of being able to give young people practical, real life, work experience.
Head of Human Resources for Scotland
Balfour Beatty, the UK’s leading construction and infrastructure company which won Large Employer of the Year at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards has offered industry placements for many years. They have a dedicated social impact team who engage with local schools and host talks and activities with young people. Balfour Beatty is committed to helping young people enter the world of work through apprenticeships.
For Jackie Archer, Head of Human Resources for Scotland, this aspect of Balfour Beatty’s work is incredibly important. She said: “You cannot underestimate the importance of being able to give young people practical, real life, work experience. Being able to give young people real life opportunities through Foundation Apprenticeships or week-long work placements is vital for allowing young people to get real life exposure to the work environment.”
For organisations like Balfour Beatty, the impact they can have on young people - and in turn, the future of the workforce - is enormous. Operating in construction, a traditionally male dominated industry, Balfour Beatty’s young male and female STEM ambassadors represent the organisation and promote the breadth of potential career opportunities.
Jackie said: “Our STEM ambassadors represent our industry; they go out and help pupils explore options of careers within our industry and showcase that you can be a female in construction and have a really successful career. They show that you can, but don’t have to, work on site. You can also work in areas such as the commercial side or in enabling functions, for example, finance.”
While many young people enjoy successful placements and go on to pursue a career with Balfour Beatty through apprenticeships and other roles, these experiences can play another important role in career services – helping young people to change their minds and gain valuable life-long skills.
Jackie said: “It’s important for young people to understand that it’s okay not to know what you want to do. The only way you’ll find out if you like something is if you get the chance to test things and try them out. If we can provide opportunities for people to be able to try and test things that can give them a clearer affirmation of the direction they want to travel in.”
By providing opportunities to experience working in an industry first-hand, work-based learning also allows young people to develop skills that they’ll take into the workplace, no matter where they end up.
“Businesses need to provide the opportunities for young people to come in and experiment. They’re trying to find their feet and their way in life. As employers, we can play a part in that journey and try to nurture their skills, discover what they’re good at and find development areas and opportunities,” said Jackie.
Businesses need to provide the opportunities for young people to come in and experiment. They’re trying to find their feet and their way in life. As employers, we can play a part in that journey and try to nurture their skills, discover what they’re good at and find development areas and opportunities.
Head of Human Resources for Scotland
For employers looking to showcase careers in their industry, Jackie said: “There are enough opportunities to get involved: “If you go looking for it, you will find it, but you do need to take the time and put the resource behind it.”
And for those who do engage with the career system, there are benefits to be gained. “By putting in that initial investment, we’re building our talent pipeline for the future, said Jackie. Balfour Beatty is a proud Patron of the 5% Club whereby they are committed to having at least 5% of the workforce being in ‘earn and learn’ roles such as apprenticeships.
She added: “By bringing young people in and creating opportunities for training and development, these individuals often grow in our organisation and become the managers and the leaders of tomorrow.
“It’s important for us that we bring the young people in and provide them with the tools that they need to be able to develop to the best of their ability. Because ultimately, the organisation benefits from that – you’ve got a motivated, well trained, individual who will actually give their best to you as an organisation.”