If business, and the communities where they’re based, are going to be successful over the long-run, the education and well-being of young people must be supported. At Midcounties, this commitment is in our founding charter and it remains as important to us now as when we were established.
We strive to make a positive contribution to the lives of young people and remain relevant to our business in three areas – education, experience and employability. This approach means that everyone benefits — young people, our colleagues and our businesses.
From primary to higher education, we support young people by providing opportunities to learn in our businesses. Schools are encouraged, for example, to use our stores as their classrooms, delivering their lessons and making learning real. Our own people also volunteer to share their expertise in schools, colleges and universities helping young people to understand how their skills are needed so that we build a pipeline of young people ready for our workplaces.
We think young people should learn about business and about life – so we use colleagues as role models, provide work experience placements, and develop their understanding of the wider world. We are particularly proud of our ‘Green Pioneer’ programme, in which young people learn how to live and work sustainably, by taking part in a residential stay with our partner organisation Outward Bound, followed by school sessions so they can visit our sites and apply their learning. This is a life changing experience for many, and it reinforces the importance of sustainability and Co-operative values in young minds.
Finally, there are skills that are critical to young people and their employment future, and to our business success, that are not on the school curriculum. We look for colleagues who have the right aptitude, attitude, enthusiasm and values to share these skills with young people.
Businesses need to put the development of young people at the very heart of their future planning, and they must develop programmes and activities aligned to their business operations which build a confident and capable future workforce.