Today is supposed to mark the first day of the Summer term for children and young people across the country. However, for the majority it will be another day at home in the ongoing lockdown. BIG Alliance and ELBA’s Education Teams are working to ensure that current students do not become the ‘lost generation’, with exams on hold and their futures looking uncertain. We are determined to continue connecting students to employees from the world of work, building their employability skills and helping them with the tangible steps needed to successfully transition into the future.
All of our educational institution partners have shown a huge amount of care and thought towards ensuring students are reassured during this time, responding to the online need for engaging with their students very rapidly. However, this is also a challenging time for schools as many do not have the resources and equipment to provide the right support and reach all students. To support this, BIG Alliance and ELBA have been creating new virtual ways to continue engaging students and to continue building meaningful connections between them and the world of work. We are piloting entirely new activity in response to this time, such as live career talks as well as recording volunteer career journeys that can be sent to students to engage with in their own time.
Over the course of our mentoring programme, students gain a range of skills; evidenced by their mentors and in their work. During these uncertain times it is important students feel supported and keep the momentum of these relationships. From a mental health standpoint, it is also important that there is a sense of normality. With face to face mentoring no longer being viable, the team have worked together to build resources to support mentors and mentees on the programme including check-ins. With mentoring moving to calls for the most part, we created a new resource adapted for phone mentoring: T-mentoring. Each week, mentors are sent a mailout themed around specific topics - so far it has covered: healthy home learning, mock telephone interviews, telephone debates and public speaking. After using the new resources, one of our mentors shared their feedback with us:
“I appreciate very much the possibility to continue with the mentoring by phone. I think this is a great opportunity to build the skills of the mentees as telephone meetings comprise a huge part of the working life and the role of meeting by phone will only rise in the future.”
We are rolling out other activities to engage all students, including online career talks, mock interviews and CV reviews. We will also be reaching out to companies interested in hosting virtual insight sessions for the summer term, with this being just one of the very exciting new ideas the team are developing. We have been really encouraged by the energy of our volunteers and companies to stay engaged with supporting students.
We know that during times of struggle it is often disadvantaged students that suffer the most, with this pandemic being no exception. Whether it be difficulties accessing technology to continue to engage with online learning, or low aspiration to encourage them to do just this, we are already hearing from our contacts how difficult it has been to maintain students’ learning and engagement. Time will tell how affected students will be from this period, but anything we can do together to keep students motivated, inspired and engaged will help. By continuing to support students as they develop their communication skills and resilience, as well as their awareness of the world of work, we are all making a tangible difference to help students transition successfully into the world of work.