Levelling Up Futures in Sheffield

Careers Leader and Volunteer with young people

In 2023 a unique cross sector partnership between Sheffield Business Together (Sheffield Chamber of commerce and Business in the Community) Sheffield City council, educators and employers delivered the Levelling up Futures in Sheffield project. The project was born out of a shared belief that your background shouldn’t determine your future and employers have a key role to play in raising the attainment, aspiration and work readiness of young people. 

Businesses in the city truly embraced the project following a call to action to get involved in activities such as Careers Talks, Mock Interviews, Workplace Visits and Speed Networking. To date 619 volunteers from 152  employers, delivered 124 employer engagements to 7,220 students in 16 schools.

Highlights included a site visit to The Heart of the City Development with Henry Boot and HLM Architects for students at Longley Park College, Mock Interviews for over 150 students at Astrea Academy, a whole programme of events for National Careers Week at Bents Green Special School and a Speed Networking session at Sheffield College with unLTD. We also held a large event careers and employability fair with The Source called Source your Future, with over 119 employees taking part to promote their opportunities and talk about the skills needed for their sector.

The feedback from students, employers and educators has been amazing. 

Our research partner KADA conducted a comprehensive evaluation and reported that 82% of students who took part said the interventions helped to make them aware of the skills they require for the future and 94% said that talking to employers helped them to develop the skills they need to achieve their career goals. 100% of teachers involved believed that the project helped their students improve their employability skills.  

Employers and volunteers also enjoyed the experience and sighted benefits to them and the business, such as creating a talent pipeline for their business, strengthening the link between education and employment, upskilling their people and developing their understanding of the challenges facing young people. 100% of volunteers who completed the evaluation said they would be involved again.

Volunteers and young people in lift on a construction site
Volunteer with young people

Carolynn McConnell (Sheffield Business Together and BITC) who led the project said. “The challenges faced by our young people since the pandemic are unprecedented. If we are going to move the dial on social mobility in the city then we must work collaboratively and to our strengths  to support particularly young people from less advantaged areas of the city. This truly unique and cross sector collaboration did just that. We can’t thank our delivery partners, the businesses, volunteers, schools/colleges and young people enough for making this such a success.

To continue this great work Sheffield Business Together will continue to partner with Sheffield City Council’s See it Be it team to do more of the same in 2023.  Both organisations have worked closely together since  2019, developing  a trailblazer pilot at Sheffield Springs Academy and Longley Park College to provide employer encounters and experiences of the workplace to students.”

Steve Gibson from Sheffield City Trust notes the positive that mock interviews had on their employees. “Our HR apprentice Maisie, who is only 18 herself, spoke about how her recent experience of the [same] mock interviews helped her. She was full of praise for the students she met and was particularly taken back when discovering that English was not always a first language with the students she met. It has given her a greater idea of the barriers faced for some of the students, barriers she had not previously considered.”