On 15-17 April 2015, EUROCITIES organised jointly with the Birmingham City Council a study visit bringing both the EUROCITIES Education and the Employment working groups together. Under the event’s theme “Second Chances” Poverty, NEETs and managing the transition from education to employment”, the participants debated and analysed some of the most pressing employment challenges and had the opportunity to visit a number of Birmingham schools. More precisely, Heartlands Academy, Wilson Stuart Special School, Waverley School and Waverley Studio College, South and City College and finally Midlands Heart opened their doors to the partakers. Each school presented their own project of occupational integration of young people depending on the type of education they are pursuing, which are:
Aston University Engineering School and Heartlands Academy work with students from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds and are both located in one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham. Both schools developed strong partnerships with local and national businesses.
Midlands Heart’s apprenticeship scheme, ‘Back on Track,is a programme which places and maintains some of the most diverse and marginalised young people in work. In addition to traditional training, mentors and work skills provision, pastoral support is provided which “wraps around” the young person and their family.
South and City College recently opened its ‘Centre for the Build Environment, located in one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham, which additionally prepares its students (16 years +) for employment by focusing on Construction Skills and by working closely with a group of employers. Furthermore, the project also gives access to higher education course (e.g. HNC/HND Professional Studies).
Waverley School and Waverley School Studio College are two schools located on the same campus in Birmingham. They both offer education for 4-19 year old pupils from minority ethnic groups. These schools established very strong links with local businesses which help their students to translate into vocational opportunities.
Wilson Stuart Special School and College is a school for children with special needs and provides education for 4-25 year olds. The aim of the school is to demonstrate that children with Additional Needs can be successful in training and can be considered for work placements.
In the end, the different groups examined carefully the strong and the weak points of all educational institutions under the form of a “SWOT analysis” and could share their perceptions with the whole group. As a reminder, SWOT Analysis is a technique for exploring the strengths and weaknesses, and for identifying both the opportunities open to you and the threats you face.