Innovative work experience week pilot hailed a success

Storengy delivering a workshop session at St. Nicholas High School

Students at three schools across Cheshire and Warrington have been participating in work experience like never before. The pilot was designed and delivered by Cheshire and Warrington LEP’s ‘The Pledge’ Partnership.

The experience focused on science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) and digital skills and careers and was developed in partnership with schools, colleges, businesses, training providers and higher education with the aim of testing an innovative new approach to traditional work experience formats.
During the pilot weeks, year 10 and 12 students had the opportunity to immerse themselves in different sectors and learn about the variety of career paths open to them once they have completed their studies.

Organisations involved included Bentley Motors, AO.com, Storengy, Rare Earth Digital, Tata Chemicals Europe, Cheshire College South and West, Changing Education, Tablet Academy, Warrington and Vale Royal College, Chester University, DriveWorks, Custerian, Youthfed Security Operations Centre, and the Environment Agency. The organisations worked with The Pledge to deliver talks, activities, training and site tours. The students then finished the week with a workshop focused on developing their CV and participating in mock interviews with the employers.

Schools involved in the pilot were St. Nicolas Catholic High School in Northwich, Sir William Stanier School in Crewe and Warrington University Technical College (UTC). St Nicholas Catholic High School had two cohorts of students joining the pilot this past week (27th – 31st January) with one cohort focused on Digital Skills, and the second focused on Engineering and STEM.

Headteacher of St. Nicholas Catholic High School, Mr Richard Woods said: “St Nicholas is delighted to be involved in this exciting pilot project as part of our ongoing work with the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership. Together, we are all committed to raising the profile of careers education and facilitating positive engagement between students, families, schools and local businesses for the benefit of our local communities.”

One of the businesses involved in the pilot delivered training to the students. Tablet Academy trained Year 12 students on Google’s Applied Digital Skills programme, before students took their learning and moved into the role of trainer to share knowledge with other year groups.

Graham Bowman, VR & Google for Education Lead said: “Work experience is an important part of the curriculum so it follows that a valuable work-based learning experience will add to students technical and personal skills and contribute to work-readiness. The week was a great opportunity, for us and the students, to think differently and put learning into action with the year 12 representatives doing a fantastic job. No matter how daunting, they approached every challenge with great enthusiasm. Tablet Academy look forward to continuing our work with local schools and The Pledge.”

The Pledge now plans to build on these pilots by offering more sector specific weeks, with Life Science, Health and Care and Construction programmes being added to these STEM and Digital programmes.
The Pledge is one programme, alongside the Digital Skills Partnership and Accelerate Cheshire & Warrington, that forms an ambitious £30m skills and business growth project being delivered by the LEP and its partners to transform learning and skills development in Cheshire and Warrington.

Clare Hayward MBE DL, Chair of the LEPs Employers Skills Board said: “These weeks have been designed to inspire young people about the various career options open to them here in Cheshire and Warrington. No matter what route a young person takes after leaving school, it is vital that they have developed skills and an understanding of what employers are looking for. This will help prepare them for the work environment and excite them about their future careers. Being able to draw together schools, local employers and HE/FE education partners to deliver the pilot weeks is testament to the need for programmes such as The Pledge in helping to drive transformational change in how we approach skills development in Cheshire and Warrington.”