According to some research for the UK Education and Employers Taskforce reported by BBC News in the UK at the weekend, work ‘experience’ cuts the likelihood of students dropping out from education. That doesn’t have to be in the conventional way of formal work experience - it can be smaller things like hearing from an employer at a school event, or having a business guest invited to a lesson, or a visit to another workplace. According to the BBC report:

 

The more young people come into contact with employers while they are at school, the less likely they are to go on to be unemployed, research suggests.
Pupils who took part in four or more activities with employers were five times less likely to drop out of school or training, it says.
Those who had no such contact were most likely to be not in education, employment or training.
Activities included work experience, visits and enterprise competition.

 

I know that many Australian schools have activities which involve businesses. And equally I know that many find it difficult to organise activities, because businesses can be difficult to contact. And it can be equally difficult for the business to organise activities for large groups of students (I remember the massive orchestration that was required for ‘work experience’ week in the UK, when around 100 High School students joined Microsoft for five days).

So perhaps next time you’re asking a business for support, you should send them this BBC story to help your case!

What I can do is also offer to try and help schools if they are looking for a business person to come along and talk to a group of students. In the past, when I’ve done those sessions, I’ve always walked away having learnt a lot, and having answered some tricky questions!

I’m based in Sydney, but I have colleagues around the country, and connections to business people working in partners around the country too. There are programmers, marketing people, sales people, entrepreneurs running their own businesses - I just might know somebody that could be the person you’re looking for.

If I can help, my email address is ray.fleming@microsoft.com