From education to employment

How the boardroom can support the classroom

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has called for careers education to begin as early as primary level and for Ofsted to address the gap in employability skills. This recent focus on careers education will not come as a surprise to many as the next generation is currently facing a worrying future. Nearly one million young people are unemployed as they struggle to make the difficult transition from school to work. Tackling youth unemployment isn’t a simple challenge and no one group can do it alone. Education providers need support from businesses, the Government and young people themselves if they are to equip the next workforce with the skills they’ll need to find work.

Teachers play a key role in facilitating learning and preparing children for the world of work. That’s why careers education is such an important part of the curriculum at key stage 3 and 4. The Government has signalled that it believes that this should continue into further education with the provision of funding for work experience post-16 on the same basis as qualification activity.

I believe passionately that work experience can form the core of educating young people about the realities and expectations of the working world. I’m not alone in thinking this; recent Barclays research found that nearly nine out of 10 (86%) teachers believe it should be mandatory and nine in ten young people aged between 14-25 (87%) agree. By offering work experience opportunities businesses can offer insight that simply isn’t possible to gain in the classroom while also helping themselves by equipping the new workforce with the skills they’ll need from employees.

LifeSkills, created with Barclays, was launched to help create and maintain partnerships between education providers and businesses. It has free, unbranded resources suitable for young people up to 19 years old. But, crucially it also has a work experience matching portal for teachers to find local work experience opportunities for their students. Since we began in March last year, we’ve reached almost 300,000 young people and partnered with business such as McDonalds, ISS and West Ham Football Club to offer work experience opportunities. We’re especially proud of our latest achievement. LifeSkills has just become the first education programme in the UK to be endorsed by City & Guilds. This endorsement which has been given to our resources reflect their quality and we’re incredibly honoured to display it.

Those of us who work in boardrooms know that teachers do a fantastic job in the classroom. Together we need to share the insight, knowledge and skills that will help young people secure a bright and brilliant future.

Kirstie Mackey is head of LifeSkills at Barclays

You can find out more about LifeSkills and its free resources at


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