Blogs - 04 October 2023

Spotlight on our D2N2 Enterprise Advisers: meet Andy Neal, Enterprise Adviser, The Pingle Academy, Swadlincote

Enterprise Advisers help bridge the gap between the world of work and education, volunteering their time to help develop their school’s careers strategy and align careers provision in schools with local economic needs​.

Enterprise Advisers are business professionals from any industry, sector or professional background who are matched with a local school to boost awareness of local career opportunities and pathways, including apprenticeships and vocational routes, and increase career-related activity opportunities for young people in their school.

In our D2N2 Careers Hub, we have over 160 Enterprise Advisers, one of which is Andy Neal, Managing Director at IG Masonry Support, who is matched with The Pingle Academy in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire.

Andy says:

“When I first volunteered to help support the careers programme at a local school – The Pingle Academy – I had absolutely no idea how I would be able to help, or how it would help change our business for the better.

Becoming an Enterprise Adviser has opened my eyes to the massive benefits to everyone involved – the business, our staff, the school, the students and teaching staff – when schools and businesses work together.

The interactions we’ve helped make happen with Pingle are helping teachers understand the great careers for their students that are literally over the road. Together, we’re inspiring students by showing them how what they’re learning in the classroom works in the real world and the careers this opens up. And as a company, we’re helping to build a talent pipeline, which is so important given the competitive employment market we operate in locally.

Making a partnership between a school and business work properly

Early in the process, a few things became clear to me. I couldn’t do this all alone, for many reasons. To make a partnership between a school and business work properly, it takes more than one person giving the odd talk and having the odd meeting with the careers leader. There’s so much you can do. There are so many different aspects to this business, from engineering to HR and finance, and the people doing these roles, who are often better placed to talk to young people.

I also learned teachers don’t always get to see the successful careers the young people they teach go on to have. We’re fortunate that amongst our staff, we have several former students, and I know it’s been inspiring for teachers to see what their former pupils have gone on to achieve.

Building a talent pipeline

One of the major challenges we have in the local area is recruitment. There is a major shortage of lots of skilled professions in the area, engineers particularly. We’re competing against major multi-nationals like Bombardier and Rolls-Royce. Building links with schools is not only a chance to help us develop a talent pipeline, it’s a chance to inspire the next generation of engineers by showing them the incredible careers next door.

But it’s not just engineers the sector needs. Being part of the construction industry, it’s no secret that there is a lack of skilled labour in the sector. We work closely with some of the major housebuilders in the country and they want to build more homes, but they can’t, because there’s a lack of skilled workers to make that a reality. Working with schools is another chance to show young people the range of rewarding, well-paid technical careers open to them in the construction sector.

Boosting morale and job satisfaction

As a business, we’re already seeing the benefits of making these young people aware of what we do. We’ve already hired apprentices through our relationship with the school, who are thriving in our company, and in some cases also benefitting from the financial support we’re providing to complete degree apprenticeships. And this extra dimension and added purpose: our staff have in their roles has boosted morale and job satisfaction.

The work we’ve done has supported teachers to build real-world experiences into their curriculum. We’ve had maths teachers working with our accounts team to show how what young people learn in the classroom translates into the smooth financial operation of a multi-million-pound company. We’ve had teachers working with our marketing team, showing how strong communication skills, writing and design are key parts of the marketing process. And we’ve had computer science staff working with our own IT team to show them how to navigate the multiple pieces of complex software needed to run our business.

The main lesson I’ve learned is that when businesses, schools and colleges work together and build sustainable relationships, the next generation gets the support they need to make that step from school into the workplace and business gets the opportunity to develop and access new talent. Everybody wins.”

Find about more about becoming an Enterprise Adviser

Find out more about becoming a Cornerstone Employer

For media enquiries, contact:

Nicola Swaney

Head of External Affairs, D2N2 LEP

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