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Award-winning employability programme returns to North East schools for 12th academic year

More than 5,000 students from across the North East are set to benefit from employer-led careers guidance as the award-winning employability programme, Building My Skills, returns.

Building My Skills aims to raise career aspirations for students by providing them with a rounded introduction to the world of work and an insight into sectors and jobs that they may not otherwise be aware of. The initiative was first launched in 2009 by Esh Group in partnership with Ryder Architecture and Arup and 2024’s version will see 116 dedicated sessions delivered to Year 9 to 12 students from 11 local authorities in the North East.

Students attend four workshops between January and June, each delivered by a different business from a wide range of sectors. This year the programme incorporates a purpose-built app where students can access and complete one of four digital ‘checkpoints’ after each session which will assist them when mapping out their own career aspirations – standing out from the competition, presenting yourself online, on paper and in person.

Corporate Affairs Director at Esh Group, Darush Dodds, is buoyed by the 2024 sign ups. With the participation of 29 schools from across the North East and Tees Valley, he said: “Building My Skills is specifically designed to make young people aware of the breadth of opportunities available across the region, change their perception of different industries and lift the lid off local businesses by showcasing roles that many students don’t know exist.

“When we launched BMS in 2009, we had just five schools involved. Now, almost 15 years later, we’re close to having supported 60,000 students through the programme, all from different demographics. We are thrilled to be working with some of the North East’s biggest businesses – Accenture, Northumbrian Water Group, Mediaworks, Newcastle United, Bradley Hall and CorePeople – to name just a few.”

As part of the timetable, lecture-style sessions will be delivered to an entire year group which ensures every student receives candid business insight on career paths, employability skills that all employees value and guidance on completing their next checkpoint.

Some 1,000 students who complete the checkpoints will be selected by teachers to attend a mock interview day in July, with business partners hosting one or more interview panels.

Dodds added: “The mock interview day is always a huge success. It provides valuable interview experiences but can open the door to second interviews for businesses who have opportunities – apprenticeships, traineeships or paid placements – available. We’ve already started delivery and we’re excited to see how students grow over the coming months.”

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership is dedicated to giving local people the skills they need to secure well-paid, quality jobs in the region. Matt Joyce, Regional Lead: North East Ambition, NELEP, is excited to see students flourish as part of the programme.

He said: “The North East Local Enterprise Partnership is thrilled to see the return of the Building My Skills programme. Over 3,500 students from 20 North East secondary schools and colleges in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland will be taking part this academic year, receiving up to date careers advice and guidance from a variety of sectors across the region.

“Our ambition is that all individuals in the North East have a good understanding of the employment opportunities available and how to access these, the Building My Skills programme is a fantastic and innovative example of employers and education working together to benefit young people.  We are excited to have supported this project and to see the impact this work has on the intended destinations of the learners involved.”

To find out more about Esh Group’s ‘Constructing Local’ programme, visit www.eshgroup.co.uk/constructing-local/

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