This week is National Careers Week, a chance to amplify and celebrate the myriad opportunities for training and support that exist to help young people as they progress towards employment. Careers support is a vital part of what we do at Villiers Park, both through our programmes and our work with partners. I want to pay tribute to everyone involved in careers work and I look forward to seeing and hearing some of the many success stories across the sector this week.
At Villiers Park, we believe that careers week is every week. Everything we do is about supporting young people to develop personal and employability skills, and raise academic outcomes. All paths lead, we hope, to a fulfilling, meaningful career.
In years gone by, our work focussed on supporting high-ability students from underrepresented groups to access higher education opportunities, which typically meant a traditional taught degree. Thinking forward to careers was always part of our programme, but Future Leaders - based on the ‘possible selves’ theory - supports a much broader range of ambitions and pathways, including higher-level and degree apprenticeships or other vocational qualifications.
In the recent past, Future Leaders such as Naimat, Molly and Teigan have chosen apprenticeships, whilst others including Robin, Mustafa and Hannah have gone down the university route. Whatever pathway they choose, they all get the same level of personalised support from us to plot and pursue their own path in life. Future Leaders is all about choosing a pathway that is right for you.
Over the past few years, we have developed new and exciting partnerships with a range of companies. Our work with Sopra Steria, a leading technology consultancy company, has enabled over 100 students from across our regional hubs to take part in office visits, digital skills workshops and employability masterclasses, and get tailored support through the Sopra Steria Opportunities Fund. Such work is critically important because it not only equips young people with vital knowledge about careers but also gives them the opportunity to shed a self-limiting belief that these sorts of careers aren’t for people like them.
In January, our Future Leaders were given an exclusive masterclass in early careers preparation from the brilliant Dale Willis, founder of My Great First Job. Over three one-hour online sessions, Dale gave tips from his 30-year career in youth recruitment and training, covering everything from writing a great first CV to smashing your interview. Over 100 people attended, showing that there’s a real appetite for skills which help young people to stand out in a competitive jobs market. We're making those webinars available exclusively to Future Leaders this week.
This academic year has also seen the launch of Sustainable Futures, a landmark green careers programme developed in partnership with WWF UK and Founders4Schools which addresses the urgent need to prepare young people for the future jobs market. A sustainable career is about more than the job you do. Everyone can be a champion for the planet in some way, whether that’s choosing to cycle to work or encouraging your workplace to improve its recycling practices. Teachers can also enhance their own careers by taking our certified CPD training, enabling them to deliver the course themselves in their own schools. In this way, we hope to embed sustainable careers thinking in the curriculum.
Over the coming week, we’ll be sharing more careers-focussed content on our social media platforms. Here's to a successful Careers Week!
Gaby Sumner, Interim Chief Executive