Ian Brown: Graham and Brown and Darwen Community Academy, Blackburn

"Don't see Business Class as a one-way street of supply a service, see it as part of securing your company's future."

Ian Brown, CR Director at Graham and Brown, found he was educating the teachers at Business Class partner Darwen Community Academy about the job opportunities in the area.

There are teenagers in education today whose job has not yet been invented. How can a business keep up with these advances? By getting involved directly with schools.

- Ian Brown,
CR Director, Graham and Brown
Graham and Brown is a business with strong ties to its local community. Having been based in Blackburn since we were established in 1946 we determined a need to have a positive impact on our home town by supporting its younger citizens.

Through the Blackburn Youth Zone we add value to the lives of our younger citizens in their recreational time. It was therefore very appropriate that we support Business Class as this meant we could support the same citizens through their schooling as well. Thereby providing support in many aspects of their informative years.

I have really enjoyed being involved in the programme, but I was surprised when I was taking a group of students round our design centre. I was not surprised by the students’ very positive reaction to the tour, my surprise came when the art teacher told me she had not realised there could be a career in her subject locally. Clearly schools need support and information so they can support students to understand the job opportunities as they make career defining choices.

A strong, focused CSR plan generates a great deal of respect and trust with your local community partners. Graham and Brown benefits from the position of responsibility we hold. It also provides an outlet for our employees to give some of themselves as part of a wider team. This in turn supports out company values and contributes to making us a desirable business to join.

There is obviously much a business can offer students; but a fully sustainable project needs to give back as well. In a world were new skills are required as technology advances the need for any business large or small to be close to the education system has never been more relevant.

There are teenagers in education today whose job has not yet been invented. How can a business keep up with these advances? By getting involved directly with schools. Secondly, the power of social media in the world today cannot be dismissed as a fad. It is the younger citizens who drive this technology and so can offer any business valuable assistance in this area. So don't see Business Class as a one way street of just supplying a service, see it as a part of securing your company’s future.