10 students aged 16 to19 from John Ruskin College in Croydon headed to London on Thursday 22nd November to get a taste of life at Serco, the company that maintains and manages the Barclays cycle hire scheme – otherwise known as Boris bikes which is one of Britain’s most influential organisations), to boost their networking and employability skills.
The eye-opening visit was part of a day-long event, ‘A Capital Experience’, organised by aspiration-raising business-education charity, Career Academies UK. The day involved around 1,300 students from across the UK, as well as over 75 leading London-based employers such as Astra Zeneca, AXA, Barclays, Clifford Chance LLP, Lloyds Banking Group, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Fujitsu, RSA, Royal Mail and Santander.
In the morning, Serco provided John Ruskin College students with a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how the organisation works, including a workplace tour. They also took part in a tour of the company and prepared a presentation about their experience.
After the visit, all the groups made their way to the Royal Festival Hall where they got the chance to network with other young people from across the UK taking part in the programme and participated in business-related activities to boost their employability skills.
During the afternoon, they received valuable advice from motivational speaker Action Jackson, adventurer Tori James, who was in the first ever all-female team to complete the Polar Challenge, a grueling 360 mile race to the magnetic North Pole; and Career Academies UK Chair, Heather McGregor. The afternoon was led by Master of Ceremonies Lee Jackson, the UK’s most experienced school and college motivational speaker and author of ‘How to be Sick [great] at School’.
Juliet Atkins and Lavina Whitely said: “Our students really looked forward to travelling to London to find out more about the inner-workings of a leading organisation like Serco. They also looked forward to sharing their experiences with other CareerAcademy students from all over the country. ‘A Capital Experience’ inspired and motivated our students and helped open their eyes to what they can achieve if they set their minds to it.”
James McCreary, Chief Executive of Career Academies UK, said: “Never has the relationship between student and employer been so crucial. Young people have to go the extra mile, be proactive and understand the basics of business in order to get ahead. Employers have to be more forthcoming and make a greater effort to engage with, and motivate, the talent on their doorsteps.
“Networking is a force to be reckoned with, even more so in person than online. Each party comes away with valuable perspectives. Students develop their communications skills, profit from an insider’s advantage and often learn about jobs before they’re advertised.”
‘A Capital Experience’ is the biggest national one-day event in the Career Academy calendar and kicks off the two-year programme for young people taking part. John Ruskin College has been running the programme at the college for a number of years.
Career Academies UK is a business-led charity that helps young people bridge the gap between school and work by giving them access to real experience of the working world.
They provide a structured programmeof paid internships, mentoring, motivational lectures and workshops to give 16-19 year olds, largely from urban areas of social need, the work experience and skills they need to be able to perform more effectively in the wider world. The programme is designed to compliment students’ studies.
At the end of the programme, over 85% of Career Academy graduates go on to higher education (often the first in their family), or into employment or work based learning such as apprenticeships or school leaver programmes.