Hastings is generally known for its history, fishing and tourism, and over the years it has seen many redevelopment projects to help to improve the town’s offering to residents and local business. Many members in the Chamber agree that Hastings is a fantastic place to work and live, but that there is still more to be done, particularly our offer to young people.
On March 29, 2018, Wendy Gorham and Tony Dillon were invited to our breakfast meeting to speak about education and employability skills for young people via the Enterprise Adviser Scheme. Launched in 2015 as part of the ‘Careers & Enterprise Fund’, a joint programme between companies and the schools/colleges to engage young people in various career activities, changing their perceptions of the work place.
The government unveiled the plans last year to improve education and aspirations for young people struggling with social mobility. With Hastings being earmarked for this innovative directive as one of twelve different areas, the Hastings Opportunity Area will be working with schools and local partners to assist with literacy, maths and numeracy, mental health and work place opportunities. Hastings’ ambition is to improve the social mobility of its population, to give intelligent and forward-thinking children the kickstart they need.
In light of this, the Hastings business community is taking a front foot forward. In 2017, the CBI/Pearson Education Skills Survey, 84% of businesses found that careers advice to young people wasn’t good enough, and with this scheme, our businesses can start taking the reins of their future. The same survey found that if a young person has one meaningful encounter with an employer in their formative years, they were more likely to be employable and volunteer later in life, and employers are already indicating a greater wiliness to provide career advice to schools and colleges.
In their presentation, a local business was quoted saying ‘Young people today lack the necessary employability skills that we need in our business. Therefore we do not employ them’. Business is quickly changing, and even young people ask their teachers about the validity of subjects they learn at school. Both employers and future employees are asking what skills, qualifications, and experience they will need, to work efficiently either in a team or taking their own initiative.
Enterprise Adviser Scheme will close the gap between school and business, giving employers the ability to invest in a future workforce easily, and young people the chance to gain a better understanding of what companies do in their local area. Such opportunities, when delivered correctly, give young people their own insight and experience in local businesses where they want to work, what they want to do, what skills they need, and know how to get there. No one is born with employability skills, but with this platform, we can engage in the right way.
Attitude has been said to be the key skill employers want, and this scheme aims to foster this, offering opportunities for students to thrive and succeed, gaining additional skills. When attitude is combined with the right skills from work experience/apprenticeships, as well as qualifications, we are able to offer young people lots of opportunities to thrive and succeed.
There are companies that have already taken up delivering this scheme locally via the Open Doors program, including Let’s Do Business Group, E.ON, General Dynamics, National Trust, AXA Healthcare, Merlin, Ashdown Hurrey, Talkativeonline, The Grand Hotel and many more.
Gorham and Dillon did not leave the chamber without giving critical insight with real life examples such as Rathfinny Wine Estate, who have recently launched their new Sussex Sparkling, invited local schools to the estate to learn about wine-making and the business behind it (from science involved in its creation to business management of finding the right distributors), and also honing their interview skills.
Meanwhile, Marshall-Tufflex, in Hastings, we were introduced to an interesting video displaying not just their engineering opportunities, but enriching impact it had on students. In a Q&A session with the Enterprise Advisers afterwards, Paul Hetherington, CEO at Marshall-Tufflex was in attendance, added that he spoke to a parent whilst at the Hastings Pram Race in the Old Town, said the child’s visit not only changed his perception of their father working in a factory, but the child wants to follow his father’s footsteps, convincing his friends to do the same.
The scheme is not just an opportunity for the children of Hastings, but of future innovation and positive growth in the area. If we are to believe in change and growth, we have to also convince our future workforce as well. ‘Young people tend to find really inspiring and interesting is when you actually tell them what your career path was,’ Dillion finished, ‘because they think ‘how do you get to do what that person’s doing, how do you making a living out of doing something that you’re passionate about in creating something?’ So if actually you say ‘this is what I did, this is how I got to where I got to’… there is nothing more powerful than that…’
If you’re a Hastings/St Leonard’s-on-Sea employer and would like to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.careersandenterprise.co.uk to learn more how you can join the Enterprise Advisor Scheme.
For more information about the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.hastingschamber.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @HACC1066.