Businesses start working in schools throughout the South West

Businesses have started working in schools throughout Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay as part of a new project aiming to improve careers provision for young people.

The Enterprise Adviser Network (EAN) was unveiled in March this year and, following a recruitment campaign throughout the summer, a team of over 30 volunteer business mentors were recruited and matched with schools throughout the Heart of the South West LEP area (Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay).

Known as Enterprise Advisers, each mentor started work with their allocated school last month, helping to identify new ideas and create a bespoke action plan. Over the next year, each Enterprise Adviser will work with the school to support the development of career advice and guidance available to young people.

One of the employers involved in the project is Honiton-based ethical IT business Cosmic.

Kate Doodson, joint CEO at Cosmic, said: “This is an exciting project and Cosmic are thrilled to be a part of it. We wanted to take part because I love the idea of being able to make a lasting difference to local students. Having an external perspective from businesses, I think, will help shape and formulate an effective plan in a timeframe that will impact on students’ aspiration for years to come.”

Stephen Criddle, Chair of the Enterprise Adviser Steering Group, Principal of South Devon College and HotSW LEP Board Member said: “The Enterprise Adviser Network is an important project – having an external business perspective will help schools to better contextualise their career guidance, and help young people to make more informed decisions about their future.

“We know that students who experience regular employer contact whilst at school have much better career prospects and that is one of our main aims.”

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “This project will not only help young people and schools, but will also help the economy of the area, helping to address skills shortages and make steps to fill these gaps.”

Schools have been selected according to a number of criteria, including exam results, the number of pupils receiving free school meals and the numbers of school leavers not in education, employment or training (NEETS).

Funding for the project was secured by HotSW LEP, in conjunction with the four upper tier local authorities. The Enterprise Adviser Network encourages employers and schools to work together to support young people in making informed choices about their future careers.

CSW Group is contracted to provide the service, which is being funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company, Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Development Agency.

Employers are still being encouraged to apply, as the aim is to roll out the project to all schools as additional funding becomes available. A total of 36 schools throughout the Heart of the South West area are taking part in the project initially.

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