Business

Boost your business and shape the workforce of tomorrow

Frances O’Hara, head of the Department for the Economy’s Careers Service, with FSB NI policy chair Tina McKenzie

THE Department for the Economy and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have joined forces to encourage businesses in the north to consider the benefits of opening their doors to school pupils via work experience.

Frances O'Hara, head of the Department Careers Service, said: “It is vital we all continue to work towards developing a strong local economy.

"Developing the skills and confidence of our future workforce has a large part to play in this. By offering school pupils purposeful and imaginative work experience the business community can play their part.

“There are also specific benefits to individual companies, who welcome pupils into their workplace, including helping to promote their sector as a good career choice and giving their existing staff the opportunity to develop their skills through mentoring. In addition pupils can help to bring new and creative ideas into a company.”

Connect to Success NI is a free online resource enabling employers to advertise apprenticeships (including Higher Level Apprenticeships) as well as school work experience opportunities.

To meet the pressing demands employers face, this can include shorter one or two day ‘experiences of work' as well as the more traditional week long format.

The portal (details at www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/connect-to-success) gives employers access to the workforce of tomorrow and enables them to raise awareness of their company.

FSB NI policy chair Tina McKenzie said: “It's easy to see the benefit to school pupils in undertaking work experience as it helps them to gain first-hand experience in the world of work as well as develop their skills.

"It can sometimes be difficult for smaller businesses to offer placements, but I encourage businesses of all sizes to open their doors to pupils and help be a part of creating the workforce of tomorrow.

“Given that unemployment is at a near record low, businesses have a real incentive to build relationships with schools to ensure that they can access workers in the future.

"While some employers are able to offer the traditional week-long school work experience, others have opted for a shorter one, two or three day experiences of work approach.

"Both are invaluable and play a real part in inspiring the workforce of tomorrow. I ask all businesses and companies to consider the benefits of work experience for school pupils and advertise their opportunities on the Connect to Success portal.”

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