19 September 2023



Working with pre or post-16 educational providers is now easier than ever. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, working with this kind of organisation has become a much smoother process; with reformed regulations and new laws, businesses have greater control and choice over how, when and with who they establish relationships.

Every young person should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities, including visiting speakers, mentoring, enterprise schemes, tours, or practical exercises, and should include students’ own part-time employment where it exists.

It's important for pre-16 educational providers to participate in at least two meaningful encounters with employers in any given curriculum year. Laws and legislation regarding experiences in the workplace have changed a lot since the COVID-19 pandemic; here are some of the key changes:

  • Experiences in the workplace no longer require week-long placements with young people. Employers need only provide an 'introduction to work life’ 
  • Virtual resources can be used to ease pre-16 individuals into an employment experience. 
  • It's a requirement from educational providers to offer more guidance for non-traditional academic routes.





Every career programme should have a strong employer focus with opportunities for students to meet businesses and gain insights into a range of different industries and sectors of the economy. Pre-16 educational providers and colleges should engage fully with national, regional, and local employers and professional networks to ensure real-world connections and meaningful encounters with employers. Visiting speakers should reflect different levels within an organisation and individuals who have followed a variety of pathways into employment, including technical and academic routes.

The Skills for Jobs white paper confirms the expansion of our existing reforms to increase the number of people studying high-quality technical education, including the rollout of T Levels. Endorsed by business, T Levels are high-quality, Level 3 classroom-based technical programmes that equip students with the knowledge, attitude, and practical skills to thrive in the workplace. Meaningful engagement with employees and employers is central to T Levels as they include a mandatory industry placement of at least 45 days, which must take place in a physical workplace setting. This helps young people to put their technical and employability skills into practice and learn what a real career is like. It also allows employers to get early sight of new talent in their industry.

This process makes it easier than ever for employers to create and manage the relationships they have with educational providers. The demand for STEM skills is growing, particularly for sectors such as engineering, construction and manufacturing. Mathematical and quantitative skills will be increasingly required in the future, not just for traditional STEM routes but for a wide range of future careers. pre-16 educational providers should make sure one of the encounters their students experience before year 11 is with a STEM employer or workplace or one of their career events is focused on STEM. The Careers & Enterprise Company has several resources related to STEM, including a series of STEM careers toolkits. 

Pre-16 educational providers and colleges should offer a varied range of employer encounters to students, progressive through the age range and tailored to individual needs, but this could mean in practice:

  • Careers fairs
  • Employer encounters with parents
  • Employer involvement in the curriculum
  • Employer mentoring; 32 • employer talks
  • Mock interviews
  • CV workshops
  • Mock assessment centres
  • Speed networking or career carousels
  • Business games and enterprise competitions


These encounters could be arranged to take place virtually, for example, through a virtual tour of a workplace, a virtual careers fair, a virtual internship, or an employer video calling the school or college for an employer talk.

The benefit of this to you, the manufacturer, is it’s about you. It’s up to you to decide your level of involvement, giving you greater control than in previous years. This process also allows you to prospect potential future apprentice and T-level schemes you can host in-house.



All students should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both technical and academic routes as well as, learning in pre-16 educational providers, colleges, universities and in the workplace.

With large scale reforms to technical education and skills, set out in the department’s Skills for Jobs white paper, it has never been more important to ensure that students are made aware of the full range of education and training options. Pre-16 educational providers  and colleges must explain technical education routes alongside academic routes and should not attempt to promote HE as a better or more favourable route than FE or apprenticeships.

Under raising the participation age (RPA) requirements, all young people in England are required to continue in education or training until at least their 18th birthday. Pre-16 educational providers  must make sure that students are clear about this requirement and what it means for them. In particular, they must be clear that students are not required to stay in school.

They can choose how to participate which might be through:

  • full time study in a school, college or training provider
  • an apprenticeship, traineeship or supported internship
  • full-time work or volunteering (20 hours or more) combined with part time accredited study

The Careers & Enterprise Company has published a guide to achieving Gatsby Benchmark 7 which includes practical ideas from pre-16 educational providers  and colleges. This includes advice on how to make sure all encounters, including virtual experiences, are meaningful. Provider encounters can be age-specific, depending on the desired learning outcomes, and should be part of a progressive careers programme. Younger year groups can begin with a light-touch introduction to careers while older students and their parents will benefit from specific events and visits that familiarise them with the full range of pathways leading up to when significant education or training choices are about to be made. Students with an education, health and care plan should have formal opportunities to discuss education, training, and career opportunities as part of their annual review from year 9 onwards.

Students highly value the opportunity to attend open days at further and higher education institutions to help narrow down choices and reaffirm their commitment to applying to attend further or higher education. Pre-16 educational providers  and colleges should help and advise students attending such open days. From a manufacturing perspective, this would be in line with site visits, apprentice panels/discussions, and talks with existing professionals.

The benefit of this route for manufacturers is that is allows for greater access and choice to potential trainees, apprentices, and internships. This is a great way to guarantee future skills gaps are covered through officials’ schemes, by initialising interest early, even niche careers can be secured through these means.

Personal Guidance 

If you're looking for more guidance or a more complete set of information, check out the following guides:

Careers and Enterprise 

Guidance and access for training providers 

Encounters for Further Education

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash



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