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Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot – Accenture

In 2015, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership began the two-year Good Career Guidance Benchmark Pilot in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation and 16 secondary schools and colleges from across the region.

The success of the pilot in the North East LEP area led to government launching new statutory guidance for schools on how to deliver careers education, with the Gatsby Career Benchmarks at its very heart.

We spoke to some of the participants in the Benchmarks pilot about the transformational impact it had – and continues to have - on the delivery of careers guidance in their school / college.

To find out more about the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, visit www.northeastambition.co.uk.

Name of interviewee: Karen Marshall

Job title: Apprentice, Education and Engagement Lead

Name of organisation: Accenture (www.accenture.com)

1.  Prior to the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot, did your organisation actively engage with schools/colleges to help deliver careers education?

Yes we did, it’s a big part of our corporate citizenship. We know a lot of the work we do creates digital displacement so it’s really important for us to get out there and let people know there are digital jobs and help people develop their digital skills.

One of our core values is making a difference in the communities where we work and live. In the past, when Accenture was purely a consultancy business, we only attracted a certain demographic. Now we have a much more diverse workforce, and that means we’re able to create more diverse solutions for our clients – we’re serving the whole of the population.

2.  How did taking part in the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot change your company’s approach to supporting careers education?

Whilst there are a lot of people that want to get involved with CEIAG in schools it’s not always the easiest thing to do. What I found was that the Benchmarks gave me more confidence to say to my colleagues ‘I’d like you to go and work with this school’ because there was a framework in place. It keeps people on track.

If you’re approaching CEIAG with no experience of the education sector it can be a minefield. The Benchmarks allowed us to have more meaningful conversations with schools and colleges, and they also gave me the confidence to encourage more of my colleagues to get involved.

3.  What role did Accenture play in the delivery of the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot in the North East?

We were members of the Enterprise Adviser Network and Accenture also took part in the Ford Next Generation Learning programme.

That was very enlightening; especially with the two taking place at the same time. It gave you a broader, more strategic scope of what was happening in schools and colleges. It created that deeper knowledge and understanding of the school environment.

4.  How has the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot improved links between industry and education in the region?

When I attend the LEP’s Enterprise Adviser Network sessions you can see it’s reaching a broader range of business people.

And being an Enterprise Adviser isn’t light touch – you’re right in there with the school or college. It’s a big commitment.

I don’t think that level of interest and uptake would have happened without the framework the Benchmarks provide. 

5.  Why is it so important for the business community to play an active role in careers education in schools/colleges?

I think especially in the cold spot areas, where there is real social deprivation, it’s so important for young people to physically see those career opportunities. People don’t know what’s out there until it’s right in front of them.

I always think what a difference it would make if all businesses in the region did just one assembly every year. It would give young people the chance to hear from a huge breadth of employers.

The Enterprise Adviser Network and the Benchmarks are definitely a conduit to help more businesses get involved in careers education.

I was an Enterprise Adviser at Churchill Community College and they did some fantastic events like career safaris, which took parents and young people on a minibus to visit different businesses and employment sites.

They also did careers fairs for parents/carers and students. The parents/carers would come in first and speak to the businesses and then the students would join. I loved that the parents/carers were involved. It really helped them understand career opportunities and it was the Benchmarks that gave schools the impetus to do that.

6.  How has supporting careers education through the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot, and beyond, benefitted Accenture?

Accenture is the world’s largest technology solutions company. Even with all that resource and power behind us, the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks are such a fantastic platform to help understand the difference between business and education, and how to work with and support the education sector.

North East Ambition makes it easier, especially for smaller business. It presents all the opportunities through the framework of the benchmarks.

One of the reasons I think it’s so successful is because it does the hard work for you.