Chair Blog

Careers Education

I was privileged to speak at Newminster’s careers event for year 8 students at The Common Room in Newcastle recently. It’s a very prestigious and historic building, as shown by the photograph above, being the Institute for mining engineers.

I began by outlining the findings from two surveys of young people about the future - both undertaken in 2021. The first survey by the World Economic Forum explored what young people wanted from work in the future. The findings were interesting:

  • young people think that the pandemic has helped them to become more resilient

  • however, they also think they are lacking the soft skills needed for future employment

  • They want work which has:

    • More emphasis on social impact

    • Environmental consciousness

    • A proactive stance on gender equality and on diversity

    • Ethical work

    • Responsiveness to the changing world

The second survey by the Three Rivers Learning Trust - asked young people about the climate crisis. There were 705 responses, including virtually all students at Newminster MS.

  • By a large majority, students said the top two issues facing the world are climate change and the destruction of nature/wildlife

  • Climate anxiety is definitely real with 84% of students worried about climate change

  • 86% of students want world leaders and those in positions of influence, such as employers, to do more to tackle climate change

Putting these findings in the context of careers education, I explained how many companies are rising to the challenges. I also suggested that they should challenge employers over what they are doing and the need to do more to address the climate crisis.

Firstly, Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

To engage in CSR means that, in the ordinary course of business, a company is operating in ways that enhance society and the environment, instead of contributing negatively to them. Starbucks prides itself on its CSR. According to the company, it has achieved many of its CSR milestones since it opened its doors, for example:

  • reaching 100% of ethically sourced coffee, 

  • creating a global network of farmers and providing them 100 million trees by 2025, 

  • pioneering green building throughout its stores, 

  • contributing millions of hours of community service, and 

  • creating a groundbreaking college programme for its employees

Secondly, the UN’s Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. Many different campaigns sit within this, mainly linked to different sectors of the economy. They differ from CSR alone in that they include the requirement to be very public about four areas: their pledges; their plans; how they’ve proceeded; and the results they publish.

One of these campaigns is Certified B Corps. They are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using businesses as a force for good. An example is Innocent drinks which  launched in 1999 after selling their first smoothies at a music festival. Almost 20 years later, they now make all sorts of smoothies, juices and other healthy, delicious drinks, all part of their quest to help people live well and die old. innocent has always tried to do business the right way. They give 10% of their profits to charity

Finally, I gave students some information about ourselves, The Three Rivers Learning Trust, and how we are taking action about the climate crisis in 4 ways

  • Learning more about the climate crisis by offering information and training to its 500+ employees

  • Looking to incorporate it throughout our curriculum eg our core business

  • Networking with others wherever possible and empowering young people. We’ve signed up to Letsgozero. Made our own dedicated climate crisis website to inform and share

  • Changing the way we run our organisation e.g reduced our carbon emissions from 885 tonnes per year to 617 tonnes

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