Business professionals in Greater Manchester are being called upon to join a community of volunteers dedicated to shaping the future of the city-region’s young people.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) works with businesses and those employed across various sectors in the city-region to recruit ‘Enterprise Advisers’.
These Enterprise Advisers partner with local schools and colleges to dispel sector misconceptions, raise the profile of their industry and connect young people to experiences of the workplace, ultimately widening talent pipelines.
They also work closely with Careers Leads to inform careers strategies, ensuring they are reflective of the current labour market and highlight routes into work for students by bridging the gap between education and industry.
There are currently more than 200 Enterprise Advisers in the city-region supporting mainstream and SEND schools as well as further education institutions, however, Greater Manchester leaders are seeking more volunteers to ensure all young people have equal access to excellent careers provision and opportunities.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, recently attended a celebration event recognising the value of Enterprise Advisers and the lasting impact their work has on young people.
“Since 2016, our Enterprise Adviser network has been creating links between education settings and employers.
“Their insights give young people access to real-world perspectives and identify the various pathways they could take to reach their career aspirations.
“The more that our young people have interactions with up-to-date knowledge of the workplace, the greater the likelihood that they will find their way and a position that inspires them.
“As part of the Trailblazer Devolution Deal, we will have further oversight of post-16 technical skills, allowing us to better shape how we support young people in Greater Manchester who do not want to go to university and match them into the skilled jobs being created in the local economy.
“Our Enterprise Advisers are doing amazing work inside a system that isn’t currently fit for purpose, so imagine what they could do with an integrated system reflective of the needs of our young people.
“We could be the first place in the country to fix technical education but we need industry voices to achieve this and to highlight the plethora of opportunity Greater Manchester has to offer.
“It is these voices which will instil enthusiasm so we can nurture and ultimately retain our future workforce.”
Although volunteers can sign up individually, GMCA also works with organisations of all sizes across multiple sectors to recruit multiple Enterprise Advisers and support businesses to fulfil their social value ambitions.
Marie Hamilton, Greater Manchester Regional Lead at Microsoft, which has six active Enterprise Advisers in Greater Manchester and three more in the pipeline. Speaking of why the business was keen to encourage its workforce to volunteer, she said:
“Greater Manchester is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in Europe, which brings lots of opportunity for our young people.
“Our volunteers want to give back to their communities and this scheme enables them to do that. By working directly with schools, they are helping to inspire the next generation and raise aspirations. Digital skills are a key requirement in 82% of roles advertised today* and that is only increasing, so by supporting local schools we are helping equip students with the skills they need for life.”
Volunteers are asked to commit to two hours or more of their time per month for at least one academic year.
GMCA also provides dedicated support, guiding volunteers and connecting them with a collaborative support network of other Advisers across Greater Manchester.
Tony Prescott, project manager at Hamilton Davies Trust has been an Enterprise Adviser for one year but has been supporting young people across Irlam and Cadishead for two years.
“This initiative was already well suited to our work as a charity and although a recognised role professionally, being an Enterprise Adviser is also so rewarding, particularly when you see hard-to-reach young people open up and engage with what we have to offer.
“The knowledge people have around the sector they work in is vital to share because it exposes young people to opportunities they may have never come across before. We want to introduce new industries and new workplaces so they can consider their futures and the various ways to get there.”
All volunteers are part of GMCA Careers Hub, which is a community of more than 200 secondary schools, colleges and further education institutions across the city-region supporting around 200,000 young people aged 11 to 19. The Hub is managed by GMCA in partnership with the Careers and Enterprise Company.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Greater Manchester’s lead for Education, Work, Skills, Apprenticeships and Digital said:
“The change in Greater Manchester’s economy is thriving and we need to ensure that we continue to bring through the talent in order to keep building that change.
“The Enterprise Adviser network is critical to supporting that through expert insights, leading to positive impacts.
“Volunteers themselves also benefit as this experience provides a unique professional development opportunity to them. In our last survey to Greater Manchester’s young people, 75% of Year 10 students said they felt in control of their future education, training and job prospects** and we’re confident that the integral role of Enterprise Advisers has contributed to this success.”