Teach First

SMEs should play their part in boosting employability of young people, says Teach First

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EMBARGOED 00:01 Friday 30 SEPTEMBER 2016

Teach First is calling on small businesses to help level the playing field for the millions of young people across the UK, by dedicating a day of their staff’s time to help build pupil employability skills.

In a report released today, the education charity is asking the UK’s 230,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)1 to donate one day of staff time a year to the country’s 22,000 schools – resulting in 10 days of business support per school annually.

There were 121,000 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEETs) at the end of 20152, and Teach First argues that few organisations are better placed to boost young people’s employability than small and medium-sized employers.

Teach First’s report highlights that interaction with businesses while at school has a direct impact on how much pupils earn in later life, with evidence suggesting that each employer contact is worth an extra 4.5% in their future pay3.

The report – written with the support of PA Consulting Group - finds that schools’ engagement with employers varied widely. While schools in London and other major cities have a good access to these businesses, most schools in rural areas are struggling to develop employment partnerships.

As the lack of appropriately skilled staff is the third biggest barrier to SME growth4, the education charity recommends that Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) help to coordinate, promote and build relationships between SMEs and schools.

The Progression Report has also recommended that school governors and multi-academy trusts ensure that each secondary school has a high quality, trained ‘careers leader’ responsible for overseeing a school wide careers and employability strategy.

Finally, the report recommends that the Careers and Enterprise Company should act as a champion for the development for new tools for teachers to deliver employability education. The report highlights existing tools and resources available to teachers and students, including their own Access Toolkit, the Which? University Tool and the Lifeskills created with Barclays.

Sam Freedman, Executive Director of Programmes at Teach First said:

“SMEs are perfectly placed to help inspire the next generation to succeed – whether that means going to university, undertaking an apprenticeship or moving directly into the workplace. Pupils with access to this type of career support at school are more likely to prosper in their future career - so it’s time to make sure all pupils get the opportunity – not just the few”.

Paul Woodgates, Head of Services to the Education Sector at PA Consulting Group said:

“Businesses must be at the heart of developing the future workforce. By working with schools from around the country to provide job application and interview training to pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds, we’ve been able to boost pupils’ employability. Importantly our staff have also learnt a great deal and relish being involved.”



  1. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are those which employ 10 to 249 workers. One in four employees in the UK works for an SME (House of Commons Library Briefing Paper: Business Statistics, December 2015)
  2. ONS, NEET Statistics Quarterly Brief October to December 2015, February 2016
  3. Journal of Education and work, Employer engagement in British Secondary education: wage earning outcomes experienced by young adults, February 2013
  4. FSB , Small Business Index, Q1 2016