Ahead Partnership, the Yorkshire based social enterprise that provides students with business-inspired learning to build aspiration and potential, has been crowned the Best Business and Education Partnership nationally at the Chamber Business Awards 2017.
Following a rigorous judging process, Ahead Partnership attended an evening of celebration at The Old Brewery in London on Thursday 30th November, where it fended off tough competition to be chosen overall national winner. Its Make the Grade programme launched in 2011 and now helps over 60,000 young people explore career options and develop their employability skills each year.
Headquartered in Leeds, Ahead Partnership won the award for its work in helping improve the skills and career choices of young people in schools, colleges and universities across the country. Ahead Partnership finds exciting ways of bringing employers and educationalists together to create and run focused employability activities which build confidence, resilience and aspiration. Activities range from enterprise competitions, live briefs, careers panels and interview practice to workplace visits, mentoring and transition skills. Employers co-design and deliver the activities, ensuring strong labour market relevance.
The win comes hot on the heels of the release of the government’s new Careers Strategy which highlights the importance of employers’ involvement in careers programmes. Employer participation in well-planned, face-to-face activities with young people is vital to “support individuals to grow and develop.” Under this new strategy, schools and colleges are compelled to provide their students with at least one encounter with an employer each year. Make the Grade education partners are already achieving with Ahead Partnership’s help.
Ahead Partnership’s work also supports the government’s ambitions to improve social mobility through education as set out in the plan presented in December 2017. Access to networks of advice, information and experience of work is particularly valuable to young people from less well-off families. Make the Grade provides an extensive network of employers who help to guide, motivate and connect all young people to opportunity regardless of their background.
Chief Executive of Ahead Partnership, Stephanie Burras CBE, comments: “I am delighted that our Make the Grade programme has been recognised nationally as an exceptional way for employers to connect into their local schools, colleges and universities. Over the last six years we have been working really hard to scale this programme whilst maintaining all the ingredients that have made it such a success. The impact that we achieve each year is entirely down to the diligence and enthusiasm of our exceptional team and our visionary partners from education and business who share our desire to bring opportunity to all.
“Skills gaps and mismatches are prevalent right across the UK whilst the labour market has never been more dynamic. Our activities help young people to better understand their opportunities by bringing them face to face with employers who are best placed to provide them with the very latest information.”
Francis Martin, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “Bridging the gap between the worlds of education and work is vital to empowering tomorrow’s workforce with the skills that businesses need. Ahead Partnership demonstrates the importance and benefits, to both students and employers, from such tailored and systematic engagement. They are truly worthy recipients of this award.”