News - 30 June 2020

How Big Business is driving Careers Education in Derby’s Schools

D2N2s efforts in inspiring the future workforce of Derby have taken a big step forward with four new businesses signing on to the organisation’s Cornerstone Employers initiative.

Geldards LLP, Motorpoint, Severn Trent, and EON have joined established Cornerstone Employers Rolls-Royce, Toyota, G.F Tomlinson, and Bombardier to improve careers education in the city.

As a Cornerstone Employer, a business works with D2N2 and the wider business community to support careers education within a cluster of schools in the local area.


Given that many experts are predicting that the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic will fall disproportionately upon the shoulders of young people, the need to inspire and prepare young people for professional life has never been more important.

The support of the Cornerstone Employers’ role enables our largest employers to have a much greater influence over the focus on careers provision in all schools, in a way that reflects the career opportunities in the local economy.

Their work gives students from a cluster of Derby’s secondary schools and colleges the opportunity to prepare for and feel inspired by the world of work whilst also building a future talent pipeline for the Cornerstone and its industry.

Becoming a Cornerstone Employer also benefits the business by giving its employees the opportunity to develop their leadership skills through volunteering and helping to build a future talent pipeline for the Cornerstone and its industry.

Cornerstone Employers have been instrumental in developing the Derby City Open Doors Programme which allows groups of young people into a workplace to gain an insight into the business, experience some meaningful workplace activities, and listen to career journey stories from employees.

That work has continued despite Coronavirus, with physical visits to a business being replaced by virtual alternatives.

Margaret Clark from Severn Trent, a recent addition to the Cornerstone Employer scheme said, “We are delighted to be supporting young people in the Derby area through being a Cornerstone Employer. We are keen to create and promote meaningful work opportunities for all through our work experience, apprenticeship and graduate training schemes.”

“At the moment, we are working in partnership with Merrill Academy to develop and pilot an innovative virtual work experience programme which will go live week commencing 29th June for a group of year 9 &10 students of key workers.”

“The programme will be shared with the other Cornerstone Employers as part of our collaborative approach to supporting schools and young people.” 

D2N2 Employer Engagement

The increase in Cornerstone Employers has further boosted the Careers strategy of D2N2 which offers multiple routes for employers who want to give back to their local communities through careers education.

The Give An Hour campaign is designed to encourage any employee or employer to donate just an hour of their time to inspiring the next generation through such activities as a careers assembly, mock-interviews, or even judging a business competition.

For those organisations who want to hold a more strategic role with a school’s careers curriculum, they can join the Enterprise Adviser Network.

Over an average of 8 hours per month, an Enterprise Adviser works with a school’s careers lead to help shape their careers curriculum based on labour market intelligence and the Enterprise Adviser’s own experience.

As part of their commitment to their school cluster, Cornerstone Employers also provide Enterprise Advisers.

For more information on careers strategy and to get involved in school engagement visit the D2N2 Careers Strategy web page.

D2N2 Careers Strategy

Cornerstone Employers are just one of various routes business can take to have an impact on career’s education within their area in order to boost the local economy, the mission statement of D2N2, the organisation, along with the Career & Enterprise Company, behind the Cornerstone employer scheme.

Rachel Quinn, D2N2’s Head of People & Skills said, “It’s a fact that poor attainment at school reduces the flow of higher-skilled people into the labour market, and with marked under-performance in many parts of Derby and Derbyshire, too many young people are not realising their potential.”

“With vital engagement from Derby’s businesses, careers advice is helping students across the region realise their potential, enhancing not only their future prospects but those of our region as well.”

Studies over the past decade have shown that there are benefits in student attainment by exposing them to the workplace environment during their studies.

More than half (58%) of a review of 47 studies found that employer engagement activities had a positive effect on pupils’ educational attainment and all four studies investigating the effects of work experience on attainment found positive results.

One such study, published in June 2019 found a direct link between career talks and students’ outperforming their predicted grades.

The improvement was the equivalent of one student in a class of 25 beating their predictions by one grade as a result of the careers talks.

Furthermore, this intervention appeared to benefit lower achievers and less engaged learners the most. Those students who reported the greatest amount of scepticism of the value of education reported a greater increase in motivation to study harder after the intervention.

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