We are so delighted to have welcomed Education Business Partnership to Connect Reading!
Michelle Smith, CEO at Education Business Partnership, took some time to answer some questions and tell us all about the organisation and how we can connect with all they’re doing.
Education Business Partnership
We are Education Business Partnership (EBP), a not-for-profit company who have been bringing together education and business for over 25 years, across the Thames Valley, to inspire and equip our future workforce for tomorrow’s workplace. Each year we work with over 12,000 young people to deliver a wide range of initiatives designed to build confidence, raise aspirations and help them successfully prepare to enter the world of work.
What was your biggest challenge last year?
By far the biggest challenge for us this year has been making the shift from in-school workshops to virtual delivery to ensure that students continue to receive the support and advice that they need to prepare for work, particularly due to the fact that traditional work experience placements have not been able to happen. The value really comes from our business volunteers and it’s been wonderful to be able to continue to involve so many employers in our aspirational workshops and live Q&A sessions via Teams and Zoom.
What have you learned?
I think the over-riding learning point is that of how resilient we can be by maintaining a can-do attitude. We have tried to look at everything that we do in terms of “what can we achieve and how do we make it possible?”
What has been your biggest creative triumph as an organisation?
I would definitely say that it is the remodelling of our delivery and content while still keeping the essence of what we know works, by ensuring that physical materials still make it into schools and by having as much live interaction possible. All of this alongside dealing with the variations in school technology! I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.
Why did you join Connect Reading?
Over the last 3 years, we have been working more and more across the Reading area and we welcome this opportunity to raise our profile with Reading employers.
We work in partnership with around 1,500 businesses whose involvement with our activities often supports their own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals. We help businesses to attract applicants (into apprenticeships, graduate programmes or direct entry roles), address skills shortages, inspire students to enter a career in their sector, improve the employability skills of young people, host work experience students and gain feedback/insight from young people. In addition, involvement with us enables employers to improve employee engagement by offering volunteering opportunities as well as enhancing and developing employees’ skills through mentoring and coaching.
What are you most looking forward to?
On a personal level, I’m looking forward to getting out of four walls, seeing friends and family and having some of the nice bits of life back again. In terms of work life, I’m very much looking forward to having our team back together again. We are a close-knit team and it’s been really hard not being able to be together in the buzz of the office.
How can people connect with you and support what you’re doing?
We have lots of volunteering opportunities throughout the academic year and there is no minimum commitment. You can reach a whole year group of 150-200 in an hour workshop and attract young people into your sector. There are lots of virtual opportunities so people working from home or who are furloughed can be involved in giving something back and feel engaged. We would love to talk to you about how you might be able to get involved so please do contact us for an informal chat about the options available.
Tel: 01635 279277