EmployabilityUK and Coventry Building Society win the 2018 Responsible Business Education Partnership Award

Coventry Building Society has won the 2018 Responsible Business Education Partnership Award for our ‘Employability Skills’ programme, which is a wide-ranging, bespoke programme run in partnership with EmployabilityUK to give students in one of the UK’s most deprived areas a chance to stand out from the crowd in the recruitment process, and be better prepared for the world of work.

Government policy drives and supports this agenda and similarly, multiple CBI reports reflect the skills gap affecting young people’s employability prospects. Young people living in socially deprived areas such as Coventry often struggle to gain real life work experience, limiting their aspiration and ability to develop the skills and attitudes needed to be successful at work, and to be upwardly socially mobile.  The tailormade ‘Employability Skills’ programme is designed to give students a chance to develop ‘soft’ skills often lacking in the current generation of future employees, and build their confidence to succeed in the workplace. Working in partnership with key stakeholders including students, teachers and school staff, Society volunteers, and EUK, the programme is now entering its fourth year helping Year 12 students from schools with high levels of need. The focus is on developing transferable skills in students that are relevant to all career paths. So far, 330 students have completed the programme and benefitted from a series of 12 sessions covering CV and covering letter coaching, interview preparation and mock interviews, presentations skills, communication, networking, team working and a workplace visit to the Society’s head office. Furthermore, the impact of financial crime, money management and social media on future employability are also included topics together with behaviours, attitudes and employment etiquette needed for the workplace, and how corporate values relate to personal values.

So far, Coventry Building Society has made a direct investment commitment to the initiative of £95,000, as well as volunteer time of near to 2,000 hours. There is also a clear business case. The programme offers a range of development opportunities for the staff volunteers. It also helps the Society to recruit more easily to a large numbers of entry-level roles, internships and apprenticeships, by having a presence in many of the secondary schools in Coventry. There are clear signs the programme is already having a big impact on student confidence with teachers reporting an improvement in ‘attitude to learning’ “The experience of the students has been one of considerable insight into the transferable skills required in today’s workplace.  We observed our students improve their responsibility, become much more mature and develop their independence during this experience” says Hemaxi Natali, Head of Post 16, Foxford School. “I never imagined how much I’d grow on this programme. Learning about the importance of transferable skills and increasing confidence has shaped my present me and future me “(Foxford School student).

The scheme has boosted employee engagement, recruitment and staff development, with over 300 volunteers taking part so far. Furthermore, it is a tangible demonstration of the Society’s CARES values (Caring, Attentive, Responsive, Ethical and Straightforward). “The Employability programme combines our support for local communities with some clear business benefits, particularly the opportunity to develop the skills of our volunteers as well as attract some great new recruits,” says Mark Parsons, the firm’s CEO. “I highly recommend that other companies get involved with EmployabilityUK. It is a great way to develop the aspirations and skills of these young people, whilst also engaging members of staff in a very practical and rewarding way.”

Diane Vernon, Founder and Chief Executive of EmployabilityUK, commented: “We are really proud of our partnership with Coventry Building Society. The volunteers are amazing and really bring employability skills to life for our students in a fun and engaging way. To win the BitC Responsible Business Award in the Education Partnership category was a fantastic achievement and extremely well-deserved! We are looking forward to year four of the programme, which starts in September”.