With schools and colleges now into a new academic year, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire has announced key impacts of its jointly-funded initiative which aims to support young people in the county to better understand career opportunities.
Together with the Careers & Enterprise Company, OxLEP Skills has invested in the Oxfordshire Careers Hub – a scheme that works alongside a total of 53 schools and colleges from across the county, providing key activity that supports strong careers provision for young people in years seven to 13.
Over the past year, the impact of the Oxfordshire Careers Hub (whose 'teacher encounter' initiative is pictured above at Oxford Biomedica) has been positively felt with the programme, this summer, reporting compelling results across several key benchmark areas.
With each Careers Hub-supported school or college benefiting from an enterprise coordinator – working with respective careers leads to develop employment advice, information and guidance – the Oxfordshire Careers Hub has highlighted positive Gatsby Benchmark scores, an evaluation tool that measures the standard of career-related education in schools and colleges.
Of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, an average of five benchmarks are now being fully-met by schools and colleges in Oxfordshire, with 90% currently meeting a minimum of three benchmarks – a significant achievement given the major disruption felt by schools and colleges for much of 2020 and 2021, following the pandemic.
The Gatsby Benchmarks evaluate activity in a number of areas, including; being able to learn from career and labour market information, addressing the needs of each student within their respective school or college setting and linking curriculum learning to the workplace.
In addition, other benchmarks access the quality of ‘encounters’ with employers, experiences of the workplace and the level of personal guidance provided.
In comparison to UK-wide figures, Oxfordshire’s schools and colleges score well collectively, finding themselves in the second ‘quartile’ across seven of the eight benchmarks.
Sally Andreou – Skills Hub Manager at OxLEP – said: “As a new academic year continues, we are incredibly pleased to report that – during the previous year – schools and colleges in Oxfordshire, supported by the Careers Hub, have collectively met a higher number of benchmark achievements than ever before, meaning young people’s knowledge and understanding of future career opportunities is in an ever-growing, positive position.
“By continuing to strive to achieve an even higher number of Gatsby Benchmark successes, we can ensure that our young people are well-prepared for the ‘world of work’ and can, in particular, gain high-quality experiences in association with Oxfordshire employers – a benchmark that we, as a county, are specifically achieving highly in.”
Oxfordshire schools and colleges scored particularly highly in the employer engagement-focused Gatsby Benchmarks, including those aimed at delivering ‘encounters with employers’ and ‘experiences with workplaces’ – almost nine out of 10 Oxfordshire schools and colleges (86%) achieved the ‘encounters’ benchmark.
Sally Andreou added: “Working with our many partners and via our enterprise advisors, we aim to ensure that young people in the county receive ‘high-quality, 21st century careers education’ – a vision that we have embedded across our Careers Hub, underpinning all of our work.
“We hope that over the next academic year, we can continue to build on this success and support our schools to ensure that every young person in the county feels ready to take their first few steps into employment, via whichever pathway they prefer to take.”
Away from the Gatsby Benchmark assessments, the Oxfordshire Careers Hub have delivered an array of activity aimed at creating positive discussions between education providers, its young people and businesses in the county.
Further achievements from the Careers Hub over the past academic year include:
- 58 enterprise advisors now support Oxfordshire schools and colleges – 13 of which have been recruited this past year.
- Over 2,700 students attended a two-day exhibition, ‘Careers Fest’, which linked young people with 70 employers.
- A total of 210 young people from special schools met with 36 employers and providers to support their future career decisions.
- Hosting a ‘schools leaders’ conference in collaboration with OSSHTA (Oxfordshire Secondary Schools Head Teacher Association) – over 100 attended, including 35 headteachers, plus careers leaders and enterprise advisers from across Oxfordshire’s schools and colleges.
- Overseeing an apprenticeship ambassador programme, made-up of 24 apprentices operating across a number of sectors, within Oxfordshire companies.
To find out more on the Oxfordshire Careers Hub, head to the OxLEP Skills website.