Career experts seek Cumbrian employers to help inspire youngsters

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Cumbrian career guidance experts are calling on employers to tap into the county's future talent.

Research shows that young people benefit from having exposure to employers.

There are also many positives firms can take from having connections with schools, colleges and universities.

Inspira, which has its headquarters in Penrith, runs several successful schemes which link employers directly with local schools.

Teaming up with CN Group and the University of Cumbria to bring you this year's Golden Apple Awards, Inspira is stepping up its drive to highlight the excellent work going on around the county.

The Government’s Careers Enterprise Company is a national network designed to inspire and prepare young people for the fast-changing world of work.

Backed by Cumbria's Local Enterprise Partnership, it runs two core programmes - the Enterprise Adviser Network and the Employer Mentoring programme.

The adviser network connects local business representatives with schools.

David Leadbetter, Inspira's careers and employer engagement manager, said: "Research tells us that exposure to employers and understanding the world of work has a positive effect on young people. It helps to raise their aspirations and encourages them to make positive life and career choices.

"As a result, Inspira is trying to encourage employers to engage with young people and educational institutions such as schools and colleges."

Inspira currently works with 36 schools and employers across Cumbria and a further 72 in Lancashire.

Dianne Richardson, from Balfour Beatty, is linked with Cockermouth School.

Mrs Richardson said: "For me the Enterprise Adviser Scheme ”joins the dots” making sure that schools, students, businesses and communities all work together to get the best results for everyone.

"None of us can solve the skills issue alone, we need everyone working together.

"If each student has four business visits in their school career their chances of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) reduce by 86 per cent. In a business world that likes to see results for investment that is a seriously impressive return."

Craig Fox is from FET Ltd and linked to Barrow sixth form feels he makes a difference.

He said: "Skills shortage is a problem here in Cumbria and as a business community we need to help make the change and ensure the future workforce is well prepared."

Employers spend eight hours a month supporting those they are linked with.

Mr Leadbetter said: "The return the company gets for their time investment is helping to develop a future workforce who understand what the career and work opportunities are, as well as equipping them with realistic expectations of the work place and a grounding in important employability skills.

"We have some really big organisations on board but we are also looking for small entrepreneurial companies, new start-ups and self-employed people."

The Employer Mentoring programme involves mentors from local firms working with no more than three students on an individual basis.

Mentors and mentees meet once a month for half an hour, allowing teenagers to discuss plans with someone outside of their familiar circle.

Again, smaller businesses are being encouraged to get involved.

Another Inspira initiative inspiring young people is Launchpad.

It is aimed at 16 and 17 year olds who are not in education, employment or training.

It explores an individual’s strengths, skills, aspirations and career opportunities.

Advisers go on to create a bespoke learning plan tailored to their individual needs and enabling them to progress and move on to find training opportunities.

A distinguished judging panel will consider nominations for this year's Golden Apple Awards later this month.

Shortlisted finalists will be revealed in early September.

More than 200 people will be invited to a glittering event at the University of Cumbria's Fusehill Street campus in Carlisle on October 6 where the winners will be announced.

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