Reach- our locally focussed Careers programme
Reach is our unique Trust led career program that brings local businesses and academies together to address social mobility, develop key employability skills and prepare students for the world of work. It’s specially designed for Year 9 students, who are at a crucial time in planning their future.
Academies work in partnership with a local STEM business on multiple, meaningful, virtual and physical employer encounters. Students also gain up to 5 AQA certificates of employability.
One of the businesses we’ve worked with is Link Contracting. A Maintenance, Refurbishment and Construction Company based in Wigan. Simon Jones led sessions with students from Swinton and Bebington.
Simon Jones, Director of People & Safety. Link Contracting
How did you become involved in Reach?
We became involved in the project back in January this year when we were looking at ways to develop our social value agenda as we had recently won an award for social value and developed our ethics and sustainability reporting metrics. We spoke with stakeholders across Co-op and identified several projects, including Reach, that looked really interesting and something we wanted to learn more about and get involved with.
After initial meetings and introductions Andy Shuttler Head of Projects, Liam Cartwright Head of M&E and myself undertook business mentor training with the Association of Business Mentors in preparation for the mentoring element of the project. Ian Walker H&S Officer and I also began to plan and prepare the work place visits and employability skills sessions.
What has been your experience of working with Co-op Academy students?
We have worked with the Bebington and Swinton Academies this year. Both have been fantastic and really engaged. Due to Covid restrictions we had to change some of the programme we had planned and held the sessions with Swinton virtually. We were able to host students from Bebington however at our offices, go out to a store and go to the school for the mentoring sessions which was brilliant. We posted on social media highlights from the sessions and have received some great feedback.
Why are programmes like Reach so important for young people?
It’s really important to give young people opportunities to develop their employability and life skills outside of the normal school curriculum. When you are young it is sometimes hard to visualise career paths or understand all of the roles and jobs that are available. We wanted to give them an understanding of the wider roles that are available and how developing skills like team work, problem solving, communication and leadership skills can enhance their own future prospects. We also wanted them to enjoy the experience and have some fun!
What are your top tips for young people thinking about their future careers?
As we said during our sessions, keep every door open, take opportunities when they come and never stop wanting to learn.