I had a great meeting with Joanna, the Principle of Stockton VIth Form College, this week. We arranged it based upon a brief conversation we had at an event where I was very impressed by their plan to provide students with work experience and on-the-job education.

I’m very keen to work with local educational establishments. We really want to provide opportunities and experience to local young people but as a micro business it can cause problems. The reality is that a school work experience person probably ties up a member of staff for a full 5 days, a college one for around 3 days and a uni one from the right academic background around a day tops. That is work not paying its way and significant for my business

A typical school or college work experience is for a full week and we simply cannot do that regularly as we are too busy to leave a staff member as unproductive for a week.

The solution, and a really great one from Stockton VIth Form, is to have work placements every Friday of term time. We would be devoting around 0.5 days of staff time per week and getting about 0.5 days of useful work from each student and that is manageable. The reality may be that over a year that is more staff time than we currently commit but the issue for us is more about devoting a big block of time from productive work in one go rather than spending the time which is valuable for us, the college and the student.

So we are happy to have 1 student, either in half-term or term blocks, throughout the year. We win as we get the chance to work with some great young people and potentially cherry pick some future employees, the college gets to sell the fact that its computing, graphics and English students get the chance to work on commercial projects and have real experience, and the student gets to put that on their CV (and may even get a job out of it longer term). Win, win, win!

There is also the feel good factor we get from simply contributing to the development of young people and local education. You can’t ignore how much better you do as a business and personally by contributing, doing things that align with your own beliefs and feeling good about what you do.

I also met some other key staff at the college and we will be helping by providing commercial graphics projects for students to supply “real-life” projects with payments for work used and I’m also going to be one of the businesses involved in their local board for delivering their STEM specialism with Career Ready.

Very happy and very excited about building this relationship and a very refreshing attitude from a forward thinking college.