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A Starship Robot driving down a street
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Northampton College Advanced Engineering Centre
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School students having a discussion with their teacher
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East Northamptonshire Enterprise Centre
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Northampton Waterside Campus

Sustainably successful

5 February 2020

A day in the life with Paula Grayson:

Paula Grayson, Director of Bell Consultancy, has been working with Biddenham International School and Sports College since late 2016.

As a sole trader working with small businesses, charities and Government departments, I am used to providing employment advice which improves how organisations work with their people. When SEMLEP asked for volunteers from their Employers’ Forum to become Enterprise Advisers, I immediately offered to assist a nearby school.

In the early briefings with the senior manager responsible for careers at Biddenham, we agreed that my business contacts could assist them with additional sources for their careers advice and guidance. With students coming from a range of backgrounds, we wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to meet employees and organisations who could help them match their career aspirations to their abilities.

I met the curriculum governors to explain how I would be assisting them.  I worked with the senior manager on the school careers website.  I continue to connect the school with useful organisations and opportunities.

The Enterprise Advisers’ monthly newsletter sent by SEMLEP is a very valuable source of information to help support Biddenham.  Most of my interactions in our third year of working together are by e-mail.

When I attend business networking sessions: CIPD, Chamber, council employment briefings, I request the contact details of people who might be useful for Biddenham.  I particularly enjoy finding their alumni who are working in interesting sectors and putting them in touch.

On 9 October 2019, I attended one of the regular careers education information advice and guidance meetings organised by SEMLEP, with the Bedfordshire Schools and Colleges Careers Network. During the meeting, Biddenham’s careers adviser updated me on how the various contacts had managed to have careers sessions with students.  This included a very successful student group visit to the innovation laboratories around Silverstone. 

Biddenham senior staff were sufficiently pleased with my assistance to nominate me for a Regional Award. I was presented with the East and South East Enterprise Adviser of the Year Award at the CEC Conference in 2018.

In learning about the academic and career interests of the Biddenham students, it gives me a useful background when local employers are talking about skills shortages, for example, when meeting as the Bedford Business Group of the Chamber.

I spend time encouraging both schools and employers to consider apprenticeships as this is a quality assured route into gaining skills through employment, without accruing graduate debt.  This was emphasised for me when carrying out mock interviews for another school.  Talking to fellow volunteer interviewers, the two Lockheed Martin new graduate recruits each were carrying £70,000 of debt from their four-year degrees, which, I feel is not a good way to begin a career.

My hope is that through these small interactions, I can encourage students to find careers they will genuinely enjoy and help organisations find the skills they need for them to be successful in a sustainable way.

We invite you to Give an Hour and make a difference to the future career choices that a young person makes. Click here to register.


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