Meaningful Encounters with Employers and Employees in Education

Over the past ten years I’ve delivered employability programmes to thousands of young people across London and the South West of England in primary, secondary, 6th form and university. To do this, I work with the education charities, Young Enterprise, Surrey SATRO and my own sustainable education company Let’s Learn Energy.


My goals are 2-fold;

  1. To help young people explore how their formal education will help them make fulfilling work choices and gain financial independence
  2. To guide young people about the need to build a sustainable future for them and their families through making real choices at home and work

Careers Education – Statutory Guidelines for Schools 

In October 2018 the Department for Education published statutory guidelines that requires secondary schools and sixth form colleges to do the following:

Encounters with employers and employees
Every student should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.
Every year, from the age of 11, pupils should participate in at least one meaningful encounter* with an employer.
*A ‘meaningful encounter’ is one in which the student has an opportunity to learn about what work is like or what it takes to be successful in the workplace.”

Work Readiness Programme

Over the last year I have been excited to be a part of a tailored ‘Work Readiness’ programme, targeted at helping young people facing significant challenges in their education and community. It’s sponsored by the Berkeley Foundation and run by The Outward Bound Trust. The trust employs Young Enterprise to deliver the classroom elements of the programme, which is where I fit in; leading the employability skills activities and discussions with students, Berkeley Group volunteers and teachers.

There were 12 students selected for the programme in each of the 7 schools stretching across London, Sussex and Kent. In session one the students met the team from Outward Bound, together with me representing Young Enterprise, and three Berkeley Group volunteers from a local office.

In session two the students went on a 4-day outward bound course in Ullswater, the Lake District. Working as a team they were responsible for their kit, money and co-operation, whilst challenging themselves to do activities such as orienteering, canoeing, gorge walking, abseiling, camping, cooking and much more. ‘Challenge by Choice’ is the Outward Bound ethos.

In session three they came back to school for an employability workshop to discuss what they had learned and do some engaging employability exercises. With the volunteers help, they realised they had learned strong transferable skills and positive attitudes, that are vital in the workplace.

Students Need to Treat Adults as their Equals

In the 10 years I have been helping Young Enterprise and other education charities, I have never seen such a dramatic transformation in students from a ‘child’ mindset to that of ‘young adult’ in such a short space of time. These young people have faced some very challenging issues in their lives that would have crushed me at their age, and yet here they were back in class treating me and the Berkeley volunteers as equals. And having a lot of laughs too!

Confidence, Self Esteem and Belief

‘Confidence’ is an elusive quality in all of us, but this experience has given them self-esteem and the first steps to a self-belief that if nurtured, will carry them through into higher education, apprenticeships and work. Their futures depend on their choices, and the common theme I got  from all the sessions is that after session three the young people felt more control and assurance amongst their peers and for their futures.

Business Must Play its Part

Schools and colleges in the state sector can only deliver meaningful encounters with employers and employees with the active support of commercial organisations and professional volunteers. To find out more about how you and/or your organisation can help in anyway at all please drop me a line or call me on my details below.

Contact Details

Author: Chris Burchill   Date : 5th Aug  2019     E:        M: 07772 214460

Education Charities & Organisations Mentioned

  • Young Enterprise
  • The Outward Bound Trust
  • Surrey SATRO
  • Let’s Learn Energy

Industry Supporters

  • The Berkeley Group Foundation

Bibliography and Sources

  • “Careers guidance and access for education and training providers – Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff” – DfE statutory requirements October ‘18
  • “Good Career Guidance” – written for the GATSBY Charitable Foundation by Sir John Holman
  • “Advancing ambitions: The role of career guidance in supporting social mobility” written for the Sutton Trust – Tristram Hooley, Jesse Matheson, A.G. Watts