When it became clear that plans for face-to-face work experience, mentoring and careers volunteering in schools could not take place because of COVID-19, bp quickly explored how to support young people remotely.
By partnering with charities including Career Ready, Speakers for Schools (SfS) and the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF), the team was able to reach more young people than ever before. Charities such as SfS and SMF aim to end educational inequality and level the playing field for young people of all backgrounds, which aligns with bp’s commitment to improving social mobility.
Students who had successfully applied for summer work experience and were expecting to be placed in bp offices have instead taken part in four-day virtual insight placements.
Around 100 young people have participated so far, including SMF and SfS students, with a further 200 expected in July and August.
Through live, interactive sessions on Google Classroom in collaboration with SfS, volunteers from across bp shared their knowledge of geoscience, engineering, low carbon, agility, ethics and compliance, digital careers, communication, the circular economy and procurement. The 15- to 18-year-olds also took part in speed networking with bp graduate employees – known as Challengers; attended sessions on interview and CV skills; and joined team-working exercises and quizzes.
Around 4,000 students joined virtual talks from bp speakers. This innovative SfS series saw top professionals from bp and other organizations sharing career stories via Teams Live. Senior leaders from bp participated, including Fuzzy Bitar, Aleida Rios, Peter Mather, Kathrina Mannion, Charlotte Stacey, Tamara Holmgren, Simon Hodgkinson and Alejandra Castaño, as well as Lightsource bp CEO Nick Boyle.
In addition to virtual offers, the bp community affairs team created new home-learning materials to support students, teachers and parents through these unprecedented times. This year, they have downloaded a record 85,000 resources – triple the figure for the same period last year – and given very positive feedback.
Almost 3,000 parents have registered on the bp educational service site since March. The usual average is 60 per month.
bp continues to work with SfS by launching a series of talks to inspire young people and help them develop essential employability skills. A range of bp employees will bring to life how they overcame challenges and used or developed a skill through professional or personal experience.
Using bp partner Skills Builder’s universal framework, which shows how to build essential skills at every stage of life, the ‘bp inspire me’ talks aim to help students understand the importance of these skills – which are now more important than ever – and relate key skills to inspirational role models.
This work makes a real difference. Research from the Education and Employers Taskforce shows that a young person who has four or more meaningful encounters with an employer is 25% less likely to be unemployed or not in education or training and can earn more during their career. The ongoing Aspires research project found that students with low social capital stand to benefit most from improved careers education and links between education and employers.
Tuesday 4 August: Joshua Wakefield on aiming high
20-year-old Josh, from Bexley, South London originally started at bp on a 6 week summer internship with Career Ready, and now works at bp as a trading operator in sustainability. Joshua is extremely determined and will demonstrate how aiming high has got him to where he is today at bp.
Thursday 6 August: Kav Bhamra on listening
Kavaljeet Singh Bhamra has been working at bp for the past 23 years. As well as his day job as a service continuity lead he is also co-chair to bp’s Positively Ethnic Network (PEN), a business resource group whose goal is to help bp become the number one employer in the UK for race and equality. In addition to talking about his career, Kav will illustrate the importance of listening to a broad range of views on diversity, to help bp achieve its aims.
Visit the Speakers for schools website for more information.