A teacher work awareness programme is being piloted in West Cumbria as part of the Enterprise Adviser Network. 

Luke Richardson, Enterprise Adviser with the Cumbrian Network, identified an opportunity to organise work experience placements for Career Leads in schools. 

We realised teachers could also benefit from work experience as well as students,” said Luke Richardson. “The opportunity would enable them to share the experience across the school for years to come.” 

The Cumbrian Enterprise Adviser Network has been established across the County for almost two years now. The network is made up of Enterprise Advisers (business volunteers) who work with individual schools to develop effective careers plan and to create opportunities with their business contacts in the area for their school or college’s students. The core premise is to increase employer engagement with young people. 

Luke, who is the Social Impact Manager at Wood, works with Whitehaven Academy. 

“We went from an idea which involved one teacher to a plan which now involves teachers from all of the secondary schools in West Cumbria,” continued Luke. “It’s a great demonstration of what can be done when you work together.” 

Working with Inspira’s Enterprise Coordinator, Melanie Carr, and five major employers – Wood, Balfour Beatty, Jacobs, NNL and Sellafield - the teacher work awareness programme was developed and piloted during June and July this year.   

Inspira manages the EAN in Cumbria on behalf of the Local Enterprise Partnership and the national organisation, the Careers and Enterprise Company. 

David Sibbit, chair of the Western Heads Consortium, has also been a key player in setting up the programme and engaged every secondary school in West Cumbria who all signed up to take part.  Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership supported the programme, offsetting the costs for the schools taking part.   

Craig Ivison, head of employability and skills at Cumbria LEP said: “We were keen to support this initiative to look at new ways to strengthen careers education in schools and to bridge the gap between education and the world of work.  We can build on this as we continue our work with partners to produce a careers strategy designed to give young people, the future workforce of Cumbria, the best possible start to their working lives."   STEM Insight are also providing schools with a bursary to cover the costs of teachers taking part. 

Schools will spend one day with each of the employers over a five-week period.  They will also receive ongoing support and CPD from the STEM Learning Team.  This is the first time a coordinated teacher work experience programme has taken place on this scale in Cumbria.  If the pilot is successful, it will be rolled out across the county.