Home / Updates / In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, about the launch of the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, about the launch of the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

What age were you when you started to think about what you might do as a career? 15? 18? Possibly even older?

Would it surprise you to know that children have their first career aspirations aged two to four years? By age five and six, children are already beginning to narrow their choices based on their gender, and by age ten many young people have already made career limiting decisions, which are fixed by age 14.

It’s for these reasons and more, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, working with EY Foundation, is launching the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot – a brand new initiative to build careers aspiration and inspiration from an early age.

We know, first hand, the transformational impact good careers education can have on young people. The North East LEP led the Good Career Guidance Benchmark Pilot in partnership with 16 secondary schools and colleges from across the region, which led to government launching new statutory guidance for schools on how to deliver careers education, with the Gatsby Career Benchmarks at its very heart.

Through the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot, we want to translate the Benchmarks so they meet the needs of primary schools, and then test them in action. Do they improve student outcomes, do they support primary schools in delivering high-quality careers education for all students, and can the approach be replicated in other areas of England?

We’ll be working with 70 primary schools from across the North East LEP region as part of the two academic-year pilot. Each school will have the support of a Facilitator, to help them implement and achieve the benchmarks, an Action Researcher to capture the impact, and be part of a community of Primary Careers Leaders, helping to deliver a shared vision for achieving the primary benchmarks.

Our partnership with EY Foundation and the team’s enthusiasm, expertise and financial support has been fundamental in making this happen. From the very early conversations, it was evident that EY Foundation understood what we were trying to do and why this pilot has so much potential to improve social mobility. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with the team and the Foundation’s Trustees, and we are so excited to kick start the activities within the 70 schools across the North East.

As an independent charity, EY Foundation helps young people overcome barriers to gaining fulfilling employment. One way they do this is by building close relationships with hundreds of employers, who provide young people with skills training and opportunities to find out more about the workplace.

The Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot forms part of North East Ambition, which is our commitment to improve social mobility by supporting each and every young person to make informed decisions about their future careers. We can do that by ensuring young people have meaningful encounters with a broad range of employers and understand the link between the subjects they study in school and the career opportunities available to them. It may sound simple, but it’s a huge culture change for many schools. We need to ensure careers education is viewed as important as curriculum-based learning, and that it’s embedded across the entire school.

Improving skills and social mobility is central to the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan to boost our economy and create more and better jobs for people living and working in the North East. We want young people to be aware of the opportunities available to them and aspire to achieve their full potential, whatever their circumstances.

Regular updates about the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot will be made available on nelep.co.uk and northeastambition.co.uk. You can also contact us with any questions via [email protected].

By Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

The Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is supported by funding from the European Social Fund, EY Foundation and the Local Growth Fund.