A thriving knowledge economy needs a workforce that is engaged with science and technology and prepared for the workplace, thus inspiring and guiding young people is critical.  The Career Academy programme aims to raise the aspirations of 16-19 year olds and aims to bridge the gap between education and employment by giving them access to real experience of the world of work.  At Bournville College of Further Education there are  currently six up and running academies, including Science & Engineering and Media, and further academies in planning include ICT.

Each Academy provide a structured, career relevant  programme, providing students with the opportunity to attend work place visits, workshops and Guru Lectures, and to be paired with a Partner in Business (mentor) and undertake a six-week paid (ideally) internship.  The idea is to give students the experience and skills they need to be able to perform more effectively in the wider world.  This is a highly successful programme, running for a number of years, and over that time over 85% of Career Academy students have progressed to university or directly into employment or work based learning such as apprenticeships or school leaver programmes.  The programme is is designed to compliment and enrich each student’s studies as summarised below.

Obviously this level of support needs the input from individuals and businesses that can support and inspire students.  We are seeking to grow our academies at Bournville College by creating new partnerships with employers, in particular our new themes ICT and Art & Design, and we are also looking at ways to evolve our science & engineering academies and further develop our media academy. We are looking for volunteers who might be interested in working with our students whether its providing mentors, as follows:

One-to-one mentoring: Business professionals meet with students and support with classroom learning, understanding of business culture and work place etiquette. They can also support the development of employability skills, CV writing, interview techniques, time management and problem solving.

Internships: Career Academies Internships are offered by employers over the six weeks summer break between the two years of the course. They are real value-adding roles within the working environment and they aim to use the skills gained from the range of inputs on the programme.

Visits & Seminars: These are employer-led and specific to course content and careers. They are wide ranging and include business tours and question and answer sessions with industry professionals.

Guru lectures: These are lectures given by volunteer professionals from industry. They may be subject specific or relevant to real working life.

It is not just the students who benefit from this engagment with the Career Academy programme – employers have reported that engaging with Career Academy students enhances staff development and demonstrates their corporate values.  So perhaps you or your organisation can volunteer and gain some direct advantage at the same time as helping to bridge the education-employment gap for the next generation.

If you are interested or you require any further information please feel free to contact me on Kelly.rogers@bournville.ac.uk or 0121 477 1667.

Kelly Rogers, Career Academy Manager, Bournville College

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