The Education Partnership Award: Coventry Building Society for improving the employability of students in the most challenged areas of their community

Award Type: 

  • 209 students took part in programme
  • 90% believe their chance of employment increased by ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ amount
  • 188 staff volunteers involved in the scheme

Improving the employability of students in the most challenged areas of their community.  


Young people living in socially deprived areas often struggle to gain real life work experience, limiting their aspiration and ability to develop the skills and attitudes needed to be successful at work.  Coventry Building Society has won the Responsible Business Education Partnership Award for its Employability programme, a wide-ranging scheme to give students in the UK’s most deprived areas a chance to get a foot on the career ladder.

Coventry scores above average against all indicators of poverty and deprivation. More than 25% of children live in low-income households, and 18.5% of residents live in neighbourhoods that are within the 10% most deprived in England. This situation severely limits levels of aspiration and social mobility and young people having few opportunities to develop the skills and attitudes needed to be successful in the workplace.

Employability is designed to give students a chance to develop skills and build their confidence. Working in partnership with the education charity, Employability UK, as well as teachers and business managers from partner schools, the business helps Year 12 students from schools with high levels of need. 

The focus is on giving careers guidance and key skills to students who are most likely to be going directly into the workplace rather than to further education, as well as those who are academically strong, but lack opportunities.

So far, 209 students have taken part and benefitted from a series of 12 sessions leading to practical work experience.  

So far, the company has made a direct investment commitment in the initiative of £65,000, as well as volunteer time  1,143 hours.

There is also a clear business case. The programme offers a range of development opportunities for the staff volunteers. It also helps the Society to recruit more easily to a large
numbers of entry-level roles, internships and apprenticeships, by having a presence in most of the secondary schools in Coventry.  

There are clear signs the programme is already having a big impact on student confidence,  teachers are reporting an improvement in ‘attitude to learning’

The scheme has boosted employee engagement, recruitment and staff development, with 188 volunteers taking part so far. “The Employability programme combines our support for local communities with some clear business benefits, particularly the opportunity to develop the skills of our volunteers as well as attract some great new recruits,” says Mark Parsons, the firm’s CEO.

“I highly recommend that other companies get involved with Employability. It is a great way to develop the aspirations and skills of these young people, whilst also engaging members of staff in a very practical and rewarding way.”