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BP encourages home grown talent

Thursday, February 28, 2013

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A programme that has helped thousands of school pupils across the UK find their right career path, and which could help tackle local skills shortages in the oil and gas sector, is being jointly piloted in North-east Scotland by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils with support from BP.

Career Academies UK, a business led charity, which is supported nationally by BP, helps raise pupils’ aspirations about their future and bridges the gap between education and work by giving them access to real experience of the world of work through a structured two-year programme.

The Career Academy model allows participating schools to respond to the particular needs of their local community. The principle focus of the programme in this area is on the STEM subjects which will create an opportunity to raise awareness of career options in the oil and gas sector and support the development of a potential pool of home-based talent to address some of the skills shortage issues.

Five schools – Gordon Schools Huntly, Peterhead and Portlethen Academies in Aberdeenshire and Oldmachar and Kincorth Academies in Aberdeen - are taking part in the pilot with more schools anticipated to join next year. Ten pupils from each school will begin the programme - which will run alongside their schools studies - in September at the start of their 5th year. They have all been identified as having great potential and are currently “middle academic” achievers planning to sit 2-3 Highers in 5th year – at least one in a STEM subject.

Over the course of the two years the pupils will benefit from mentoring, motivational lectures and workshops with Partners in Business such as BP as well as a five-week paid internship. In many cases the Career Academy will particularly support youngsters from areas where there is limited family history of higher education, little awareness of career options or a limited network of support to help them achieve their goals.

Working within the Career Academy programme, participants will gain work experience and skills to better prepare them for their chosen career pathway. It will also help them make more informed choices about what they want to do when they graduate from the programme. The scheme is so successful that more than 85% of graduates either go to university – often the first in the family to do so – or directly into employment or work-based learning such as an apprenticeship or a school leaver scheme.

First introduced in London in 2002, Career Academies UK came to Central Scotland over two years ago and BP has been working with Career Academies UK and the two local authorities for the past six months to support, and provide seed funding for its introduction to the North East.

“None of what we do as a business-led charity is possible without the support of organisations like BP,” said Anne Wexelstein, Lead Manager for Career Academies UK in Scotland. “We are delighted to be supported by them in the North East and look forward to working with the industry from whom we have already had a very positive response and desire to be involved.”

Tim Smith, Vice President for Communications & External Affairs for BP commented, “Part of BP’s contribution to secondary education is to help raise the aspirations of young people and help them make informed choices about future career options. Career Academies UK does just that and has the potential to make a real difference to young people in the North East of Scotland.

“We have been delighted at the amount of interest being shown in the programme both by the schools and our colleagues across the oil and gas industry. It is a real example of partnership working at its best and shows what can be achieved when the public, private and charitable sectors work together for the benefit of young people.”

Alec Carstairs, recently retired as senior partner at Ernst & Young, has just been appointed chair of the North East Career Academies Advisory Board. “I am very aware of the difficulties young people face in navigating their way into a career and also of the real challenges for business trying to find the right people,” he said. “This programme is all about partnerships between young people, schools and businesses and will help make things happen for young people who have strong aspirations. I look forward to making and supporting these partnerships in the future.”

Neil McLennan, Acting Service Manager at Aberdeen City Council said: “Career Academies complement a wide range of approaches to Enterprise Education in Aberdeen schools. Our aim is to prepare young people with the necessary skills and attributes for learning, life and work. In doing so, the support of the business community has been excellent. Businesses are engaged in traditional careers education and also mentoring, role modelling and helping students to see and benefit from skills pathways which lead to positive and sustained destinations in the world of work.”

“This ambitious partnership will enable young people to engage with exciting and motivating learning experiences in a real life business environment,” said Councillor Isobel Davidson, Chair of Aberdeenshire’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee. Vice Chair, Councillor Ron McKail, said: “BP should be commended for setting up this vocational programme where young people can develop appropriate skills to enhance their employment prospects in an industry central to the economy of the North East.”