Business Class is booming

An initiative which brings together commerce and education has resulted in over 80 school-business partnerships thriving from Bethesda to Bridgend, with collaborations flourishing in every local authority area in Wales.

Business Class, a Business in the Community programme delivered in Wales by Careers Wales and funded by the Welsh Government, has already exceeded its target of creating 81 partnerships by the end of this academic year. Its purpose is to benefit both partners, with schools gaining from businesses’ expertise and business gaining from understanding their local community and working with their potential future workforce. 

The milestone of reaching every local authority area in Wales comes as part Responsible Business Week, Business in the Community’s annual campaigning week that celebrates the positive difference business can make to schools, communities and the future workforce of Wales. The latest partnership to be forged is between Ysgol Uwchradd Bodedern and Horizon Nuclear on Ynys Môn, but schools across Wales are taking part in Business Class.

Every business, everywhere

Every size of company, from two micro-businesses in Powys to SMEs to large employers, have signed up. In addition, a range of sectors including engineering, construction, leisure, transport, finance, media and the law are active in the programme. The result is that Wales’ future employees are acquiring the skills they need for the world of work. From traditional employability skills such as interview techniques to a practical understanding of learning how restocking a warehouse works, young people are learning the skills that will be required of them in the world of work. Furthermore, teachers are gaining insights from experts in various fields, schools are being supported in marketing themselves and head teachers are benefiting from industry’s expertise. In turn, businesses gain from their staff expanding their skills and experience through working in areas beyond their day-to-day roles.

Business Class is now well-established and plans for its future include the strengthening of the 22 clusters of schools and businesses that are working together across Wales. This unique cluster mechanism gives schools and businesses the benefit of scale; they work together to share the enormous pool of expertise and experience which they have between them. 

Partnership activities include:

Matt Appleby, Director of Business in the Community Cymru said:

“Business Class partnerships are now flourishing across the whole of Wales. Across every sector of the Welsh economy micro-businesses to nationwide employers are taking part. All variety of schools are involved – both through the medium of Welsh and English, those in rural communities and in inner city areas, and special schools. All the activities are based on the individual needs of schools, ensuring that every partnership is tailored to address the precise needs of both school and business.   

“Our partnership with Careers Wales has resulted in excellent take-up and in sustainable partnerships supporting schools across Wales. We are looking forward to continuing this productive relationship into the next academic year and beyond”.

Graham Bowd, Interim Chief Executive of Careers Wales, added: 
 
“Research shows that students are less likely to become NEET if they have had four or more direct engagements with employers. Business Class is a tried and tested model which allows companies to not only take action to support young people, but also contribute to the development of Wales’s future workforce. 
 
“Through the programme, the needs of secondary schools are mapped against the expertise, commitment and resources of employers to create a mutually beneficial partnership. 
 
“Celebrating the 81st partnership is testament to the hard work and commitment of those involved in making the programme a success. We look forward to continuing to facilitate the development of the crucial collaborations that enable young people to become engaged and enthused in the world of work.”