Posted on 16 Apr, 2015 by Russell Poppe
Studio Schools have been around for a few years now, with 36 already open and 9 in the pre-opening stage.
Essentially, the idea is to equip students with the skills and knowledge that will help them succeed in the workplace, using a totally different approach to that of the more conventional education system.
What makes Studio Schools different?
Students at Studio Schools develop key employability skills through the CREATE skills framework.
CREATE is comprised of a wide range of skills and stands for:
Relating to people
Studio Schools work with all kinds of businesses, not just those in technical industries.
And it seems the idea is catching on, as the number of Studio Schools is increasing, both in England and overseas.
It’s actually possible for companies to open their own Studio School - though the regulations around doing so perhaps make this the preserve of larger organisations. Most commonly a partnership between the school and business is required.
So what’s in it for employers, and why should they get involved?
Bridging the skills gap for contract electronics manufacturers
Studio School links with industry are still developing and improving, as the two different worlds of education and business come together for the common good.
Whereas some large companies can be relatively self-sufficient in nurturing new talent through amazing apprenticeship opportunities, small and medium-sized enterprises need to work in partnerships.
These allow them to satisfy the future need for employees who can hit the ground running, with at least the basic skills required for employability.
It's no secret that finding experienced, skilled, engineering staff has become extremely difficult in some areas (including contract electronics manufacturing). There is a real need to fill the future skills gap - and that “future” isn’t far away.
Apparently, it is becoming harder to attract staff from overseas too, so developing local engineering talent is a more sustainable option.
Of course, there is an ethical dimension too. It’s important to help local young people to find work, whether through improving education standards and promoting engagement in STEM subjects, or encouraging more women into engineering.
This course of action not only helps the local community, but also the industry as a whole and, eventually, UK PLC. So it’s not just ethically sound, but something that provides wide-reaching benefits.
How can my business work with Studio Schools?
Employers can choose to work with Studio Schools in various ways, whether it be short or longer term projects, or simply through offering work experience.
The value of the latter shouldn’t be underestimated. Schools are generally pretty good at turning out students with decent numeracy and literacy skills, and not turning up on time or dressing inappropriately while on placement increasingly seem to be issues of the past.
Working with a range of people and learning to be proactive, for example, are valuable skills that can only be strengthened through real work experience. Achieving 80 per cent may be deemed a success at school, but when it comes to On Time in Full delivery performance, it’s unlikely to make the grade.
So, as a country, how do we define success and, as businesses, how do we measure the financial return?
Engineering a brighter future
As a society we want our children to have options and to find sustainable, well paid work that contributes to our communities.
As businesses we need skilled employees to keep us going; to prevent us being short-staffed or having to pay over the odds for experienced people or to agencies to find them. Staff who feel valued by their employers are more likely to want a long-term job and career. It's worth the effort don’t you think?
Of course, from an industry viewpoint we would love to see our schools have the agility and flexibility of a good commercial organisation. However, this is not so easy when politics, exam targets and Ofsted pressures are also in play.
Exactly how much influence or control industry should have over Studio Schools is still up for debate - and just how this relationship develops remains to be seen.
However, there is genuine will to succeed across the government, education and industry - and the more of us who can get involved to drive things forward, the better for all our futures.
Image by Argonne National Laboratory