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Virtual Q&As to celebrate National Careers Week

Last week, we celebrated National Careers Week with our biggest virtual volunteering event to date with a series of live, virtual Q&As between our schools and colleges, and our employer partners. 

Despite some bad weather affecting schools and colleges, it was a big success across Skills Builder Partnership.

  • 220 volunteers from 25 different employers
  • 41 classes from primaries, secondaries, special schools and colleges
  • 1000+ learners from 7 years old to 24 years old
  • Plus 1 class dog called Gizmo! 

There were lots of brilliant questions and topics of discussion, which are highlighted below. 

In one session, students were talking to a volunteer who works in cyber security about a hacking event which used Minecraft! In another, they heard from a lawyer who studied law, went on to become a primary school teacher and then returned to law. 

What did teachers have to say?

These sessions are a brilliant opportunity for students of all ages to find out about different workplaces, industries and jobs - and crucially how the people who work there use their essential skills everyday. 

“It was an excellent session. The volunteers that attended were very engaging and answered all the questions at a level that was appropriate for the age range. Thank you very much. I am sure you have inspired some (if not all) of the Y6 children.”

- Skills Leader, Co-op Academy Broadhurst

“Very positive session & the students gained a great deal from meeting the different employees. One student even typed out the answers, so they can reflect on them in the future & also discuss with the other Post 16 Class.” 

- Post 16 Tutor & Job Coach, Undershaw Education Trust

“The Q&A was invaluable; students had a whole heap of questions. It was nice to consolidate them and combine them to form our questions for the volunteers. Thank you to all concerned.”

- Deputy Head, Wolf Fields Primary School

What did volunteers have to say?

We had such a wide range of employers taking part, from lawyers at Allen & Overy, graduates at Places for People to financial advisors at Lloyds Bank.

“It was great being able to talk to class 6 blue/green. Some great questions were asked and I hope my answers were able to help. I have a great personal interest in these talks as somebody who came from a less fortunate background and never had opportunities such as this in my school, I want to try share knowledge as much as possible.”

- Manager, KPMG Quality Engineering & Testing Services

“I find this such a worthwhile cause and wish we had had something like this when we were at school. Having an idea of what jobs are out there and what they might like to know is crucial in providing students with information to help them make the right choices for them.”

- Senior Legal PA, Baker & McKenzie LLP

“I wanted to give back more to people and volunteering is something I can do to help. With this being virtual and helping children is great as I have kids of my own and want to help inspire future cyber security professionals.”

- Principal Security Analyst, London Stock Exchange Group

Questions asked throughout the week

Aspirations and next steps were a big theme. Lots of volunteers shared stories about their personal journeys through education and employment, which really inspired the students.  

  • “Who is your inspiration?”
  • “What's the top essential skill that your company is looking for when they are recruiting graduates?”
  • “What did you want to be when you were at school? I want to be a ninja!”

Unsurprisingly, there were questions about how the volunteers use essential skills in their work.

  • “What was your biggest obstacle to get to where you are in your career now, and what essential skills helped you overcome this?”
  • “Which essential skill is most important in your current role?”
  • “Did the essential skills help you figure out what job you wanted to do when you were older?”
  • “Please can you tell us a way that you have improved your creativity skills?”

Students didn’t shy away from asking the questions they felt were important too.

  • “How do you deal with the pressure of your job and not get overwhelmed?
  • “What is your company's mission?”
  • “How much profit does your company make each year?”
  • “How do your companies support people with disabilities?”

And finally, students were also keen to find out about the day-to-day practicalities of working life. Thank you to our volunteers for their helpful and informative responses.

  • “What does a typical work day look like for you?”
  • “What do you do when someone makes a mistake in your team?”
  • “What do you need to wear for work?”
  • “How many people do you get to speak to and work with most days?”

How does it work?

During the sessions, our team of former teachers facilitate questions about the employer, the employee and essential skills. We really enjoy having the opportunity to connect classrooms with the world of work, and it’s a definite highlight for the team here too. 

“I think these sessions are so powerful for the students and could have a huge impact on their lives. Really inspiring and grateful to be a part of them. I learn a lot from the volunteers too!”

- Joella, Education Associate, Skills Builder Partnership

“Such a good session! I was so impressed with the quality of the questions from my Year 9 group.”

- Miranda, Education Associate, Skills Builder Partnership

“The level of curiosity and interest the students display in these sessions is brilliant. It’s a special week to be a part of- you can really see how it benefits them.”

- Connor, Education Associate, Skills Builder Partnership

Thank you

We couldn’t do this without the support and generosity of the volunteers and volunteer organisers at our employer partners. Thank you for taking the time to inspire the next generation. 

We also want to say a massive thank you to all the teachers and leaders who made this possible for the students. Your support and team-teaching during the sessions is invaluable!

And last but not least, thank you to all the students for your questions and curiosity. 

We’ll be running another virtual volunteering event with Employer Q&As during the summer term. 

Want to be involved?

If you are a school or college not currently working with us, please take a look at the Accelerator programme. Applications for 2023-24 are open!

If you're an employer who wants to raise the profile of your business whilst supporting skills development, we'd love to hear from you! Please reach out to julie.guidi@skillsbuilder.org