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3 Reasons why we are involved with careers education

Red Potato believe passionately in careers education.  So we wanted to be the first to “sign up” as an Enterprise Advisor at Hertfordshire LEP.

Hertfordshire LEP are delivering The Careers & Enterprise Company Programme.  This forms part of a nationwide network being rolled out across LEP areas.

The ambition is to:

• inspire and prepare young people for the fast changing world of work
• shape the future workforce to meet local business needs

Why careers education is important

Here are three reasons why business leaders in Hertfordshire should get involved with this programme:

  1. “What you sow, so shall you reap” – firstly, your business can gain important insights into what your next generation of customers wants and expects from your business.
  2. The young people will give you especially relevant feedback and new insights.   Hence, you will learn how to improve your business.
  3. Most of all this is your opportunity to give back to Hertfordshire. As a result you can help future generations create wealth and prosperity in the local economy by sharing your experience and insights with young people.

Careers Education

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Mentoring for life: Are troubled teenagers and business entrepreneurs made from the same stuff?

When it comes to mentoring it can mean very different things to different people: ranging from social befriending through to a strict focus on shared objectives mentoring.   Befriending may include things like helping someone to take small steps to overcome a fear of open spaces for example.   The warmth, encouragement and support from befriending can be crucial in helping, as sometimes statutory services are more interested in measuring the output of their work and encouraged to maintain a professional distance from “clients”.     Other benefits such as building confidence may occur following from those first steps outside the home, but in the case of befriending this isn’t the aim.

In my opinion, strict enterprise mentoring involves working with the client on agreed objectives which are stated and agreed from the start – for instance how to prepare a business for trade sale, or entry to a new market.  Any social relationship achieved is incidental to the business objectives.  SFEDI (Sector Skills body for Enterprise) says that mentor/mentee relationship should enable the mentee to “develop goals that will have a positive impact on their business enterprise”.    There is a clear focus and aim for the mentoring relationship.

In contrast to the business objectives of enterprise mentoring, community mentoring is about helping adults and children develop as individuals, so that they find their true self.  To do this the mentor needs to understand their own personal boundaries.  Without an understanding of their identity, the mentor can end up confusing the mentee about who is the client!

So having established the differences between enterprise and community mentoring, I’m now going to say in many ways they are also very similar.  For instance building a relationship based on equality, openness and trust is common to all types of mentoring.    Perhaps less obvious though is the possibility that those same troubled young people could with the right form of guidance and mentoring  go onto to set up and run the next generation of enterprises.   Even if you ignore the other reasons to get mentoring, the powerful impact of mentoring on life chances and entrepreneurialism, should be a strong motivator for business people to get mentoring.

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So how’s the business going?

If you are a new business owner how do you answer this question?   Most people who ask the question “How is business going for you?”  are genuinely interested in what you’re doing and want to see you do well.   There maybe a couple of people who are looking to you to fail so that they can say “I knew it would never work, I always said she/he couldn’t hack it and the business plan wasn’t feasible” – but let’s assume most people want to see you do well.  

Whether you are an employee of a long established company or in the midst of starting up a business, it is important to be honest but positive.  

Honest:  People can usually see through bull; if you say business is great and it isn’t then your body language and demeanor will eventually give you away!

Positive: People want to see you do well and if you don’t believe in the business no else will either!   So create your own confidence, build a buzz about your business and focus on the value you can deliver to your customers and stakeholders!

Here at Red Potato we have recently been helping a group of UK based unemployed executives explore future options.   Unemployment is a dreadful option and the group meeting each week undoubtedly provides an important support mechanism for the participants.   But unemployment can also be an important spur to action – the difficult bit is enabling the individual concerned to make an honest assessment of their position and then to ensure they are in a position to take positive action to address that position.     Red Potato works in partnership with local agencies to provide mentoring, work experience and community engagement services.  We also measure the “difference” the projects we deliver make to local people.   Stay positive everyone!

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Too much data can lead to the wrong decision

The public sector deals in information, yet the value of that information is sometimes lost amongst all the other things going on.   Often we are asking elected members or senior management to make an informed judgement on policy based on too much data.   Yes you read it right, “too much data” masking the key points we are trying to convey.

The Place Survey contained vast amounts of data, but how much was then distilled into intelligence which could be used to drive local improvements?  I have been part of presentations where legions of graphs were presented on resident satisfaction and the importance of different services only to find that the data is used to justify existing policy.

Maybe a different approach is needed in which we use pictures to give direction of travel and focus on the issues being discussed.   Less data, presented more effectively can be more powerful.

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