Group Chief Executive Officer's blog

Has work experience had its day?

More than ever before, employers are crying out for school and college leavers to have stronger employability skills and to be better prepared for the world of work.  Traditional work experience, it seems, is not doing the job.

Work experience often takes place towards the end of the summer term, once all of the ‘important’ business of the school year has been completed, almost as an afterthought.  A combination of patchy careers advice, and variable links between schools and local employers, can mean that there is a poor fit between the student and the workplace.

Employers and education need to be better connected to break the “Catch 22” of youth employment

Recent research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) – Catch 16-24: Youth Employment Challenge – casts interesting light on a familiar challenge facing many young people entering the labour market: At a time when employers are placing increasing value on prior work experience when recruiting, there has been a dramatic fall in the numbers of young people combining part-time work with their education.

Literally Norfolk

Norfolk has a great literary history but too many of its children are reaching secondary school age with poor (below national average) reading and writing skills. The TEN Group is spearheading a campaign (titled "Literally Norfolk") that aims to galvanise the community into action to reverse this trend and to see Norfolk children raising both literacy levels and literary interest across the county. The project will also encourage and facilitate family and community reading/writing as the norm.

There are three major themes for the campaign:

There is an Eagle in our school - a new book from the TEN Group

Chris Hassell is an educational consultant currently employed by Transforming Education in Norfolk (TEN). A highly experienced leader, who holds a Manchester University Master of Education degree in the Organisation and Planning of Education, he was headteacher and principal of Reepham High School and College in Norfolk through fifteen years of growth and development. Under his leadership Reepham developed from being an 11-16 school into an 11-18 institution. In the course of doing so it received three successive outstanding inspection reports from Ofsted.

Is ‘parity of esteem’ the right goal for vocational education?

In a major speech to the CBI in Cambridge recently (18th November 2014), the Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw told his audience that there is a need to establish “parity of esteem” between the traditional academic route and vocational education.  

Sir Wilshaw added that, with the economy improving and cross-party agreement on the need for more high-quality apprenticeships, “We have never had a better opportunity to tackle our lamentable record on vocational education, but only if we seize this moment and only if employers play their part.”  

Academic qualifications on their own will never be enough preparation for the world of work

In the world of education August is, understandably, dominated by A Level and GCSE results… but are the academic qualifications at the heart of our education system doing enough to prepare young people for their future careers?      

Why it’s time to look again at Apprenticeships

According to figures from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), these are good times for apprenticeship training. An ICM survey for National Apprenticeship Week suggested that 44% of businesses plan to take on an apprentice in the next 5 years – up from 36% a year ago.

This is certainly good news for NAS and all of us who believe in the value of Apprenticeship training. But the fact remains, on this data, that more than half of businesses are NOT considering taking on an apprentice in the next 5 years – and we should be asking: “Why not?”

UTC Norfolk: Joining forces to tackle our engineering skills gap

The energy, engineering and advanced manufacturing sectors are hugely important to the economic development of Norfolk and the East of England, but 64% of engineering employers in the region report skills gaps (CBI Annual Skills Survey).  Forecasts put the requirement for skilled technicians to grow by 25,000-30,000 over the next 5 years.

Business and education need to co-create skills development

It is unfortunately still the case that the status-quo in education is setting up too many young people to fail in the workplace, through no fault of their own. Worse, this is handicapping the capacity of small and medium businesses up and down the country to be reliable engines of growth.

New Anglia 100: One hundred reasons we can make a difference

The New Anglia 100 is coming and this exciting new movement – led not by government or established authorities, but by a coming together of like-minded innovators and leaders – has its sights set on making real, sustainable changes for education and learning in our region.  

In short, The New Anglia 100 is about bringing together 100 people, from all sections of the education, business and wider community, with 100 ideas for change.  We will then put in place the opportunities for these innovative projects to take root and make a real impact on education, learning and skills.