Star business ambassadors

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Businesses that go above and beyond to encourage students to consider careers in their sector will be hailed as ambassadors as part of a new initiative launched by School Employer Connections at Asidua.

While many people now struggle to find employment in Northern Ireland, a number of sectors (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, Digital Technology, Financial Services, Hospitality and Tourism) have been identified as having workforce gaps, which could reach crisis level in the next few years as these areas develop. As part of the initiative, fifty star businesses will be awarded ambassador status to signify their commitment to the development of the future workforce of their sector.

Set up by business leaders in 2001, School Employer Connections aims to establish meaningful connections between schools and employers, so that employers can play a part in preparing students for the world of work. Celebrating ten years in operation, the social enterprise is Northern Ireland’s leading workforce development organisation, with over 5,000 students taking part in their programmes every year, connecting with their network of 500 employers. The organisation has recently redefined its focus on high priority sectors and, through the ambassador initiative, School Employer Connections recognizes the great work they have done, and continue to do, to highlight the range of exciting careers in their sector.

Director of School Employer Connections, Máire Gallagher, highlights that the ambassadors will showcase best practice to the business community:

“We are indebted to every one of the hundreds of businesses of every size and type from every conceivable sector who have assisted us in our efforts to prepare young people for the world of work since 2001. In 2011, in response to economic data and government priorities, we have sharpened our focus very significantly to five priority sectors and we have identified 50 “flagship” businesses in those sectors, most of whom have been demonstrating their commitment to our cause for many years.”

Angela Canavan, Chief Operations Officer of Asidua, which is one of the organisations being recognised, explains why it makes sense to engage with students:

“By influencing the career choices of students it is possible to increase the quality of future employees and develop new recruitment channels. Existing employees also benefit as participation can help develop their management and coaching skills. Participation in student placements results in a range of tangible business benefits for Asidua such as raised profile, increased innovation, and the real outcomes from projects that students work on. Working with School Employer Connections enhances the experience due to their focus on, and knowledge of the priority sectors, their professionalism, and the relationships they have formed with schools.”

The full list of ambassadors will be announced at an event at Beech Hill Country House Hotel, Derry in June. If your business is interested in getting involved, or for more information, visit www.schoolemployerconnections.org or call 028 7136 4656.