Commercial Education Trust
There is more to employer engagement in education than providing work experience placements. To motivate young people and help prepare them for whatever the future brings, employers need to work with education providers to embed authentic and meaningful learning experiences in the wider curriculum.
There’s no shortage of evidence that employer engagement in education makes a real difference to young people’s learning and life chances. Research has shown that employers can influence students’ thinking, challenge their assumptions and increase their motivation to learn. Contact with employers can also help students make the transition from education into work. Yet levels of employer engagement in the education of 14-19 year olds remain low in the UK, compared to other countries. Efforts to involve employers more closely in education include the 2011 Wolf Review and the requirement to provide work experience in programmes of study for this age group. More recently policy makers have tried to encourage employer involvement in qualifications design and skills development, but with little apparent success. Work experience and site visits are still the most common education engagement activities, reported by 83 per cent of businesses. If anything, we appear to be going backwards, with reported links between businesses and schools and colleges dropping from 81 per cent in 2017 to 72 per cent in 2018. How, then, can employers play a more active and meaningful role in preparing young people for life and work in a rapidly changing world? Research commissioned by the Commercial Education Trust (CET) and the Edge Foundation suggests that the innovative approach taken by institutions known as Career Colleges could offer part of the answer.