Helping young people to succeed – the Career Academies

Isn’t it funny when you see someone out of context? I’m a regular at the excellent TiE Entrepreneur Network meetings and attended the recent event at HSBC, Manchester. There were some familiar faces of course, but one acquaintance took me by surprise. Jordan is 16 years old and plays rugby with my son and there he was, suited up with 3 equally youthful schoolmates. The funny thing is he asked me FIRST what I was doing there!

It turns out the three boys were there courtesy of Career Academies UK, a charitable organisation that forges links between schools, colleges and businesses, transforming lives along the way. CAU currently works with over 100 schools and further education colleges and has 87 Career Academies set up, with another 40 in the pipeline. According to their brochure, the Career Academy initiative is a, “2 year programme of study for 16-19 year olds, within established sixth forms and colleges. It combines a rigorous academic curriculum with real-life work experience, inspiring students to achieve their full education and employment potential”.

Importantly, Career Academies rely on the generosity and involvement of business to provide this valuable grounding for the kids. This comes in the form of mentoring, internships, visits/seminars and what it classes ‘guru lectures’.

Anyway, back to young Jordan and his pals! To say I was impressed is an understatement. They didn’t huddle in a corner, but got stuck in chatting to the grown ups, contrary to what real professionals often do. And when the guest speaker had finished and asked for questions, one of the lads stuck his hand up and asked a cracker!

And this morning I was privileged to meet another cohort, this time from Ashton Sixth Form near Stockport, and again they exhibited some commendable skills. One student talked about his recent trip to London’s  Square Mile and told the story in a natural, conversational style using mostly slide images – a great lesson for anyone who presents in the workplace.

I’m delighted to be a guru lecturer (an overly grandiose term for me I can assure you) for Career Academies on the topics of networking and public speaking/presenting. If you’d like to know more about perhaps mentoring, lecturing or offering an internship, e-mail

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