School leavers were given a taste of working life in food and consumer goods this August, thanks to a virtual work experience programme that saw some of the industry’s biggest retailers and brands come together through IGD to deliver an interactive week of learning, knowledge and skills development.
With young people set to be amongst the worst affected by the COVID-19 crisis from a skills and employability perspective, IGD worked collaboratively with the food and consumer goods industry to pull together a virtual work experience programme that not only set out to help school leavers who are unsure of their next steps, but also to bring to life the breadth of careers available in FMCG.
Sarah McCarthy, IGD’s employability programmes manager, said: “Progression plans for young people leaving school this summer have been disrupted by the pandemic, leaving them feeling uncertain about what’s next. We also know that the number of 18-24-year-olds not in education, employment or training could surge higher than the 2009 financial crisis.
“As the UK’s largest private sector employer, the food and consumer goods industry recognises that it has a responsibility to help young people and support our communities in these challenging times; and we also have a great story to tell them about the exciting range of skilled careers available in FMCG.
“IGD already has a strong heritage in helping young people develop the skills they need in the workplace; this summer, we also wanted to respond to the immediate needs of Year 13s, most of whom haven’t had access to the careers advice or traditional work experience programmes they usually would. We knew we had the skills, experience and network in place to deliver an impactful programme, but we needed the help of our industry to make this a reality; and needless to say, the level of support we have received has been fantastic.”
Some 80 school leavers participated in the work experience programme, taking part in a whole range of interactive live workshops and hands-on projects which ran across the week. Participants were able to select individual masterclasses in areas that interested them, including marketing and sales, engineering, IT and digital. They heard from 23 industry professionals from 14 major brands and retailers (see notes to editors), including many industry leaders; they also had the chance to take on a project with guidance from industry insiders and to get personalised feedback, develop their skills and add to their CV.
Some 97% of participants fed back that the programme helped them to develop their understanding of the skills used in the world of work, and there was some great anecdotal feedback too, with many citing the interactive sessions, ability to learn soft skills and explore their strengths as really valuable.
McCarthy added: “The Summer Programme was the pilot of an industry-wide, virtual work experience model and we are thrilled with the results. We will now be exploring how we can work collaboratively with our industry to deliver this programme at scale, to support young people as we head into a challenging recession and a jobs market which will come under increasingly intense pressure.”