Have you ever heard a business owner or manager complain that school/college/university graduates are not “work ready” and lack the skills they need for their business? I certainly have.

My initial response is usually to ask whether the business has engaged with the education sector to address these issues. In the majority of cases, the answer is “no”, accompanied by a puzzled look as to why they should.

There are plenty of benefits for businesses that engage with the education sector. Aside from meeting corporate social responsibilities, getting involved with education gives you the opportunity to influence the curriculum – helping to develop courses that are more relevant to the needs of the business. Being actively involved with local education will also give you access to the crème of the student crop when you are looking to recruit, and provide valuable development opportunities for your existing staff, through student mentoring or becoming a school or college governor. And, you’ll raise the profile of your business in the process too.

Despite this, many businesses don’t get involved with education. Often because they simply don’t know where to start or don’t really understand the education system.  There’s also a common misconception that engaging with education means taking on an apprentice or offering work placements – but there are so many other ways to get involved.

From providing staff to speak at careers fairs, to Dragon’s Den days, peer day talks, and mock interviews – schools and colleges have a wide variety of activities throughout the year where they really value the contribution of ‘real’ business people to help inspire their students.

Over the past few months, I have been helping to develop a business-education matchmaking service! This new service will enable businesses to specify the types of activities that they are interested in getting involved in and will then match them with relevant local schools and colleges looking for support.

The service goes live in September, so watch this space for further details and, if you are a business interested in engaging with the education sector, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at chrisitan.mancier@gorvins.com or follow me on Twitter @Mancier.

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