Businesses support drive to create opportunities and promote social mobility

20 July 2018

Businesses have been learning how they can engage with schools as part of efforts to improve social mobility.

Chris Oldham, an apprentice at Nestle, was among those who spoke at an event organised by PwC and told the audience how the opportunity to engage with a business at school had made a huge difference to his life and pushed and challenged him to help develop his skills and career progression.

Mr Oldham, Manufacturing Apprentice at Nestle, said: "It was really valuable to meet staff from Nestle who came into school as it opened my mind to what different employers do and how my studies related to their work. I am now really enjoying my apprenticeship at Nestle and believe the people that have pushed and challenged me along the way have helped me to develop my skills and get my career started."

The event, organised in partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Careers and Enterprise Partnership, was attended by around 35 business leaders and was aimed at inspiring large employers from across the City Region to use their expertise and influence to make a difference to the life chances of young people from disadvantaged communities.

The event asked businesses to support schools and colleges in Bradford and the wider region to help inspire more young people. The LEP's Enterprise Adviser Network, which supported the event, is a flagship programme for businesses and employers to link with schools to meet and inspire their future workforce. The network is working with over 160 schools and has over 160 Enterprise Advisers engaged in the programme.

PwC hosted the event as part of its work supporting the network and its backing for the LEP's ambitions to promote social mobility and inclusive growth.

The LEP and Careers and Enterprise Partnership are both committed to supporting schools to raise aspirations and broaden the horizons of young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Bradford received a share of £72 million from the Government to boost these opportunities for young people.

Research by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation has found that when young people have four meaningful encounters with employers, they are likely to earn around 18% more during their careers and are 86% less likely to find themselves outside education, employment or training.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: "It is fantastic to see the commitment of PwC giving time to help young people develop essential skills for life and support other businesses to engage with schools and contribute to improving social mobility. This business expertise and influence can really make a difference to the life chances of young people from disadvantaged communities.

"Through the Enterprise Adviser Network businesses can link with schools and support them to raise aspirations and broaden the horizons of young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, ensuring they can develop and attract the talent required for their future workforce.

"PwC played a key role in hosting this event and supporting the recruitment of more employers to work through our programmes in Bradford and I was pleased to see so many of the region's employers joining us at the event. Together we can raise education standards and encourage and empower young people to shape their own future, making a huge difference to the employment prospects of the City Region economy."

Will Richardson, PwC's Leeds Office Senior Partner, said: "Creating a realistic expectation and aspiration to build a rewarding career should be something that young people come to expect but sadly this is not always the case. When I joined the Bradford Opportunity Area partnership board I wanted to focus on how businesses like PwC could support the development of young people from the area to give them the appetite and confidence to go out and seek employment.

"I'm delighted that along with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, PwC is able to host this event where I would encourage as many local businesses as possible to come along to see how they too can make a real difference and help change lives."