Business Organisation Delivers Major Skills and Confidence Boost to City’s Young Learners

23rd August 2022

Businesses in Sheffield have helped deliver careers support to more than 2300 young people this year as part of an innovative new scheme.

Members of Sheffield Chamber have, through their membership, helped to deliver a key strand of the Levelling Up Futures in Sheffield (LUFiS) engagement programme along with cross sector network Sheffield Business Together.

The LUFiS programme is a city-wide partnership between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Sheffield Business Together to support young people adversely affected by the pandemic through education and employability initiatives. It is funded by a £622,000 government grant.

Studies reveal employer contact at school reduces the likelihood of young people becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training). Students who have four of more employer encounters are 86% less likely to end up NEET.

The LUFiS programme’s social mobility strand being delivered by Sheffield Chamber and Sheffield Business Together has engaged 2,376 students to date with 264 employees. More than 150 employers are currently engaging students, exposing them to a diverse range of exciting careers and helping guide them towards the jobs of the future.

Interim Chief Executive of Sheffield Chamber Louisa Harrison-Walker said: “I think it’s brilliant that Sheffield Chamber Members are helping to make a lasting difference to the life chances of young people in the city’s most deprived areas.

“We strongly believe that a young person’s background shouldn’t determine their future and that employers have a vital role to play in raising the aspiration, attainment, and work readiness of our young people.”

According to project evaluation by Kada Research, 88% of pupils engaged by the programme believed that talking to people from the business community helped them to understand their career options, leaving 90% of them feeling positive about those options.

An impressive 82% of pupils also believed that employer engagement helped make them more aware of the skills required for their careers with 94% feeling that the programme had helped them develop those skills.

In a further demonstration of Sheffield Chamber’s commitment to supporting skills in the region, it is preparing for another academic year at its Business and Enterprise Academy at Sheffield College.

The Academy, which launched in 2019, helps young people and budding entrepreneurs develop the skills they need to enter the world of business. Chamber members provide mentorship for attendees while The Academy helps to organise industry placements and specialist guest speakers alongside supporting young people with CV writing and interview sessions.

Naomi Conway successfully launched Footsteps Theatre Ltd thanks to the lessons she learnt at the Business and Enterprise Academy. After graduating from university, Naomi wanted to teach life skills to children through performing arts and resolved to launch her own business after failing to find a suitable organisation to work for in Sheffield.

After completing the 10-week start-up programme, an international business course and attending several academy workshops, Naomi felt confident enough to launch her own business. She currently does her own finance and marketing, two areas in which she had been intimidated before attending The Academy.

Steve Manley, Joint Managing Director at Universal Office Products, and a former President of Sheffield Chamber who helped set up The Business and Enterprise Academy, said: “As a product of Sheffield College myself, my life was changed when an external speaker came to talk to us about running your own business.

“We want to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs by connecting them to a wide range of high-quality external speakers, from global business leaders to premiership football managers. The Academy is the first of its kind in the UK, and we are proud to have such a pioneering initiative call Sheffield home.”  

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