Esh Group - Building My Skills

The School Partnerships Award, Winner 2015, Reaccredited 2016.

Esh Group has brought together businesses and schools across the north of England to provide free careers advice, which has helped the construction firm build strong relationships with businesses within and outside its sector.

What the judges thought

  • This is an inspirational and authentic programme that is ensuring that young people have access to a wide variety of experiences across different sectors, led by volunteers to whom they can relate.
  • The programme is based on a simple and effective framework that is timetabled into the school’s academic year, making it easy for partners and the supply chain to identify where and when they can support.
  • Esh Group have leveraged support from more than 60 of the partners and supply chain companies that they work with locally. This leveraged support is something that all companies looking to work with schools could learn from and roll out for themselves

Social and business impacts

  • Regular, timetabled engagement in schools has developed teachers’ knowledge of different professions and helped schools meet Ofsted requirements.
  • The programme ran 294 sessions in 2014 which reached 6,976 students, developing their understanding of the world of work.
  • Esh Group supported development of the future workforce, offered a free service to support local authorities following cutbacks.
  • The programme enabled Esh Group to fulfil contractual obligations to support the communities in which it operates.
  • New and existing relationships with businesses outside the construction sector were built and strengthened. This increased engagement with Esh Group’s supply chain.
  • Provided personal development opportunities for employees from 65 businesses including Esh Group, which ran 20% of the 294 careers sessions.

Esh group logoIn brief

Construction firm Esh Group brought together businesses and schools across the north of England to provide a structured, free career advice programme to almost 7,000 young people.

Building my Skills gives young people invaluable understanding about the world of work directly from employers, through timetabled careers sessions delivered by businesses.  Students benefit from mock interviews, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities. 49 schools in 23 local authorities have taken part, with 65 businesses contributing time and resource.

The scheme has also helped Esh to build better relationships with its suppliers and the local community, and has given staff valuable development opportunities through volunteering.

The story in detail

Esh Group’s Building My Skills programme is an inspiring example of how a business can work across its partners and supply chain to enable young people to gain access to a broad range of experiences within the workplace. All the judges agreed that the model that Esh has developed is something that any business thinking about working with a school could look at, learn from and roll out themselves.

- Tulsi Naidu,
Executive Director, UK & Offshore, Prudential UK and Europe, Chair of judges
Young people need access to quality careers information about a range of career pathways. However, few schools provide this service adequately. Schools find it difficult to provide their students with ‘real’ experiences in the world of work, while local authority cuts make it more difficult than ever to fund programmes to achieve this.

Career insights straight from business

Building My Skills (BMS) is a structured employability skills programme which has brought together 65 businesses with 49 schools in 23 local authority areas in the north of England over the academic year.

The programme was first developed in partnership with Ryder, Arup, and Turner & Townsend in the 2010/11 academic year. The current workgroup consists of like-minded businesses, corporate partners and Esh Group’s supply chain. It is managed by Esh Group and delivered at no cost to schools, clients or local authorities.

Students receive six timetabled sessions lasting one hour, each delivered by a different business, providing an insight into their career path, sector and employability skills they value. Business volunteers also support students in completing a ‘checkpoint’, which is a part of their employability portfolio. Students who complete six checkpoints are offered a mock interview, which has led to some being offered work experience and apprenticeships. Esh Group itself has employed eight young people through the scheme.

Supporting tenders, promoting sectors and reaching diverse audiences

BMS provides schools with regular business engagement and supports them in meeting new Ofsted requirements. It gives the businesses a chance to promote their sector and opportunities for staff to get involved in their local communities. For Esh Group, it has helped the company fulfil its contractual obligations and supported tenders for new work. It has offered personal development opportunities for 23 staff, who have delivered 60 sessions in 42 schools.

From a survey of 884 students conducted in December 2014, 68% agreed BMS was more appealing as it is delivered solely by business. Before BMS 13% of students had engaged with one business a year, whereas afterwards all had engaged with six businesses a year. It has also raised the profile of the construction industry among school pupils and enabled Esh Group to engage with young women and young people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities - audiences it would previously have found difficult to reach.

What Esh Group's CEO said:

"Businesses must work together to open students eyes to opportunity, charge them up and excite them about the world of work. If we do, we can greatly increase a young person’s ability to gain better qualifications, aspire to be in employment, and enter the job market." - Brian Manning, CEO, Esh Group

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