Social mobility charity brings work experience with top employers to Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

By Speakers for Schools, the leading social mobility charity - 02nd April 2024

Social mobility charity Speakers for Schools is rolling out high-quality virtual work experiences to build young peoples’ skills and confidence in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

This is part of a new £2 million scheme in partnership with The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) to re-invent work experience for young people. It will develop engaging, meaningful virtual work experiences for state-educated 13–14-year-olds and the new programme, funded by the CEC and DfE, is rolling out with Speakers for Schools in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

Virtual work experience bridges the gap for young people in rural or coastal communities who face unique challenges. With fewer local and large employers to access, they are often left behind due to such geographical limitations. This approach allows young people to access opportunities regardless of where they live or who their parents know, and it also reflects the realities of today’s hybrid workplace.

The programme will be available to 600 state schools in coastal and rural communities across England, providing access to wider national networks of employers outside their local community. This will include online opportunities with respected employers such as Network Rail, Modern Art Oxford, Reed Smith, Wates Construction and the Institute of Food and Science Technology. It will involve interactive skills workshops led by industry professionals targeting 7000 students and offering real-life three-day projects, including ongoing feedback and assessment.

Nick Brook, CEO, Speakers for Schools, said: "Talent is spread evenly across the country, but opportunity is not. We at Speakers for Schools believe that high-quality work experience should be a right, not a privilege, for state-education children. Access to potential future employers should never be dependent upon who mum and dad know, or where you live.

"By delivering virtual work experience placements in rural and coastal communities, we remove the barrier of geography or expensive travel. This partnership will enable thousands more young people to gain valuable insights into the world of work and help open doors to employers that were previously closed."

Zoe, a member of the charity’s Youth Council, said: “Where I live has some great experiences, but it’s hard to find work experience close to you. Throughout school, I’ve found that it’s also practically impossible to trust public transport to get you there. This makes it really difficult for children with parents who work full time to take up any work experience opportunities. I hope virtual work experience makes it easier for everyone to access, no matter where they live.”

Speakers for Schools believes high-quality work experience should be accessible for all state-educated students in England, for the material impact it can have on young peoples’ lives. In March 2023, the charity published a report carried out by the think tank the Social Market Foundation, which earmarked an annual cost of £75m for delivering two work experience placements per state-school student, only 0.1% of the school budget in 2022. All research can be found here.

Find out more about virtual opportunities here.

This partnership will enable thousands more young people to gain valuable insights into the world of work and help open doors to employers that were previously closed.

- Nick Brook, CEO, Speakers for Schools
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