Lancashire's business community needs to help students succeed

Are we doing enough to help young people in Lancashire succeed in business?

By John Kersey, IoD Lancashire chairman.

A YouGov survey in September 2013 found that 52% of graduate employers said none or few graduate recruits were work-ready when they joined, with 17% claiming none of them were fit for the job.

This added to concerns raised earlier that year when it was reported that almost one in ten students - 26,000 - were left without a job or a further education course after finishing university.

Research for the Association of Graduate Recruiters shows that undergraduates recognise the importance of gaining work-ready skills but they need more help obtaining them.

It strikes me that, as a community of businesses that rely on a stream of fresh talent to survive, we need to do more to help students make the most of their academic qualifications and launch their careers.

Using Launchpad to launch a career

The IoD student membership scheme is designed very much to support students in their studies and in developing their future career.

The full membership package is detailed here but as a summary the key benefits include:

  • Guru panel – access to ‘real’ Business Mentors
  • Internship and workplace information
  • Peer group on-line networking
  • Events and networking in the region
  • Access to Start Up Smart UP – for starting your own business
  • A wealth of online Business Resources
  • Exclusive discount offers
The scheme is very much about giving students the opportunity to develop valuable connections and a portfolio of practical business tools, which will stay with them for the rest of their career.

The IoD Lancashire twist

Here in Lancashire, the IoD committee is particularly eager to help propel future business leaders to success. It was a real pleasure to meet Launchpad students at UCLan's Lancashire Business School recently.

So, alongside the benefits offered by the national Launchpad scheme, we have recently established a student sub-committee made up of IoD student members from UCLan's Lancashire Business School. They'll be taking responsibility for advancing our programme of student engagement.

We plan to give local Launchpad members more intimate access to full IoD members in the county, even creating a 'buddy' system for students wishing to attend IoD events in the region but that would prefer to go with someone they know that's more accustomed to business networking.

We're also just putting the finishing touches to the Lancashire IoD Lecture series that will see prominent IoD members, with interesting stories to tell, deliver inspiring talks to students in colleges and universities across Lancashire.

And Lee Petts, winner of the IoD North West director of the year award 2015 for Leadership in Corporate Responsibility, and an active member of the IoD Lancashire committee that I chair, will soon begin a speaking tour of colleges and universities to promote sustainability and responsible business themes.

Galvanising the business community to help

Paid and unpaid internships have been used extensively in recent years to give students access to real work experience, but future business leaders would benefit from understanding how successful companies actually function.

With that in mind, we're keen to pilot a Student Non-Executive Director scheme that will see Lancashire businesses invite students to attend and observe their board meetings in order to gain an insight into business fundamentals at the most senior levels.

If this sounds like something you'd be happy to get involved in, please contact us to discuss.

During my forty year career, I've always been a big believer in the success of young people. For instance, I've personally trained around 200 apprentices in my businesses over the years. Anything that helps today's students better equip themselves with the skills needed to succeed in their future careers, in turn helping Lancashire to build a thriving economy, has to be welcomed.