Over summer, a group of 15 Ian Williams employees were privileged to act as career mentors for 25 pupils from nearby Chipping Sodbury School. The initiative was hosted in partnership with Future Frontiers, an award winning charity that works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to raise career aspirations and drive academic performance. Future Frontiers believes that pupils from low-income families are less likely to enjoy school, less likely to see the value in their education, and are therefore more likely to under-achieve. By building partnerships between schools and local businesses, the Future Frontiers programme helps young people make the link between educational attainment and exciting career opportunities, motivating them at an important time as they make subject option choices or prepare to take GCSE examinations.
For employees at Ian Williams, mentoring young people through potentially life-changing career decisions was a hugely rewarding experience. Employees began their journey with a coaching workshop, where they learnt the skills needed to motivate and engage with pupils. Over the course of four weeks, volunteer mentors helped pupils delve into careers that inspired them, find out more about the pathway to their dream job, and understand how education opens doors to career success. In the final session, pupils enjoyed a video call with professional experts, including a zookeeper, a professional football coach and an animator, with many pupils now inspired to pursue their top career choice.
Following the initiative, the school noticed an improvement in pupils’ motivation and engagement in the classroom. Our volunteer mentors also found the programme an enjoyable and worthwhile experience; for Samantha Oakley, a trainee surveyor and career mentor, it was all about giving something back: “Future Frontiers was a great opportunity to work with students to help them establish career goals for the future. I wanted to work with the programme as I felt it was something I needed myself when I was at school and I thought it would be a great opportunity to help others. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the programme so thanks to all involved for the opportunity!”
Sian Pearce, Ian Williams’ Training and Development Manager added: “Getting involved with the Future Frontiers initiative fits hand in glove with Ian Williams’ approach to encourage young people, some of whom may not have had a privileged start to life, prepare for the future of work. A joint initiative between the Ian Williams’ Academy, Foundation and business as a whole, we were delighted with how many of our employees wanted to get involved and give up their time to coach – and hopefully guide the young people involved in the programme to discover and explore careers that inspire them. In fact, it would be fantastic if some of the students who successfully complete the programme and go on to achieve GCSEs, come back to join our Academy Apprentice programme to develop their careers further in the future.”
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