This scorecard is due to be updated in 2018
In order for an economy to flourish, a well-educated, dynamic and employable workforce is necessary. This can be achieved by equipping people with aspirations, motivation and the right skills to succeed in education and the workplace. Nevertheless, there are complex social challenges in this process, such as:
- high levels of youth unemployment
- patterns of long-term unemployment and 'workless households', which result in no work experience in successive generations
- underachievement, particularly school pupils failing to attain recognised qualifications
- a lack of basic language, literacy and numeracy skills, particularly among the most marginalised people.
Aspirations play an important role in educational and professional achievements. A lack of knowledge about how to realise those ambitions, insufficient role-models and limited contacts ('social capital') outside a community hinders people from actively contributing to the economy. Businesses are in a position to inspire, challenge and mobilise people by providing opportunities for them to achieve. By partnering with educational institutions, businesses open up avenues for both sides to learn and develop.
Previous research has indicated that 85% of secondary school head teachers believe it is either ‘very’ or ‘extremely beneficial’ to have a sustained link between business and academia. It adds relevance to academic work, helps to broaden student options and increases motivation. A more recent review undertaken by BITC show that employer engagement is associated with a reduction in a young person's likelihood of being 'not in education, employment or training' (NEET).
Business participation is most beneficial when a well-defined, clearly-directed and well-sponsored programme of education in the community is aligned with the organisation’s own values, philosophy and strategy. The commitment of the senior management, in particular, can ensure the delivery of sustainable links and relationships with schools and the wider community. Crucial is an understanding of the expectations, requirements and needs of both sides of the relationship.
There are many ways in which companies can invest in education: offering graduate entry programmes and various work-experience schemes; provision of staff time and expertise to mentoring or tutoring programmes with local children or community groups; donations of educational equipment, sponsorship or cash support of organisations offering career instruction programmes; and, identifying and engaging in local initiatives that may be promoted by employees. Contributions to education may also include financial support of sports and youth organisations which offer life skills and opportunities outside the classroom. Business people volunteering as school governors, as another example, are in a position to raise standards and expectations within schools.
Benefits to business include:
- greater access to future employees in the talent pool
- chance to help in areas of need in the community
- increased opportunities for employee engagement, promoting staff development and satisfaction
- development of new skills in the workforce
- networking opportunities to generate goodwill amongst and build relationships with institutions and programmes in the local community
- new sources of business learning
- identification of potential business opportunities.
Although there may be marketing elements in community education projects, many companies are able to balance these two aspects and meet their social, environmental and ethical objectives.
The question is designed to identify how companies support education in the communities in which they are located. Businesses may describe any participation they have in education projects in other communities, possibly overseas, but this alone doesn’t constitute a YES answer.