Helping young people in schools up and down the country to make clear and informed choices about their future – Enterprise Advisers are a network of senior business professionals who volunteer their time to inspire, share knowledge and expertise to guide and encourage the youth of today to think seriously about their tomorrow.

Enterprise Advisers help schools and colleges senior leadership teams develop a career and enterprise plan to maximise opportunities available for young people. Nigel Jones, Group Director of People at Together Housing Group is one such adviser.

Through a volunteer recruitment campaign, the Careers and Enterprise Company ran via the CIPD Nigel decided he wanted to help Together Housing Association residents and tenant’s youth on the Shadsworth Estate’s Our Lady and St John Catholic High School reach their potential.

Below Nigel tells us more about why he decided to become an Enterprise Adviser and what it entails:

CIPD ran a campaign a few years ago asking for volunteers to become Enterprise Advisers, it fit Together Housing’s ethos of giving back to the local communities that we work in. I’m already passionate about ensuring we give ample opportunity to the residents and tenants that are on our estates and through this campaign we would be able to encourage our communities to explore options they may not otherwise have considered.

The Careers and Enterprise Company are flexible in terms of where you can be placed and encourage Enterprise Advisers to volunteer at a local school near to where you live for ease of access and for the longevity of the partnership. During the interview process I stipulated that I would like to be located at one of the schools linked to one of our communities as a result I have been volunteering my time Lady St Johns High School for the past three years. I work with the school to promote apprenticeship and employment opportunities for our tenants or the children of our tenants.

During my time with the school, I have helped a number of students through assemblies, career talks and interview training. Previous apprentices also come back to talk about their experiences with Together Housing Group, for example, Maisie Roberts joined us as an apprentice and has now moved onto full time employment as well as becoming an apprentice ambassador.

We haven’t been able to do this since Covid but previously we used to hold interview training days in our offices. We would invite 60 Year 10 and 11 students over a day or two to come along and tour our offices, hear about the work that we do, learn interview techniques and take part in mock interviews. Since Covid we have moved a lot of interview training and assemblies online with the school and this has been beneficial for the children involved.

The two main things I like about being an Enterprise Adviser are:

  1. You’re allowing children to get an insight into the world of work. There is nothing better than having someone who can show you a window into the world of work and the practicality of it.
  2. We are giving them some reality outside of school and around the type of study they will need to do to match the career aspirations they may have.

Online or offline I always emphasise the importance of hard work and getting good grades. You need at least a Grade 4 in Maths and English to take part in our apprenticeships. I like to encourage realism so that the youth I work with don’t struggle in the future.

As an Enterprise Adviser I work with Year 10 and Year 11 students and let them know of opportunities that we have available at Together Housing Group. One such opportunity is the Apprenticeship programme that we run. Currently we have over 30 apprentices in our workplace in a variety of roles from trades such as plumbing to office roles such as Business Administration, each lasting between 18 months to two years. As the apprenticeship comes to an end, we encourage them to apply for jobs within our organisation or look elsewhere externally. We encourage our apprentices to use their own initiatives and actively apply for suitable vacancies. We always have entry level positions open, and we hold competitive interviews, recruiting people on merit.

How to become an Enterprise Adviser

Anyone in a senior leadership role can become an Enterprise Adviser. It is open to any professionals and not just for those working in HR, as long as you can help young people realise their potential in the community you live or work in you can become a part of this great initiative.

We meet four times a year to keep in touch and learn what each of us are doing and how we can improve the practices that we currently have in place. My group has over 30 people in it and it’s great to see so many senior professionals working with schools and colleges. It only take a few hours every month but the impact is huge.

You can read more apprenticeship stories here