Future First has been working with Taylor Wessing for seven years to deliver career insight days for Year 12s and Year 10s across the country. With less than two months to go until the launch of their apprenticeship scheme, Partner, Neil Smyth, shares why the partnership with Future First has been integral to their social mobility strategy.
“Taylor Wessing started working with Future First seven years ago. We were attracted to the charity because of its focus on social mobility and also because it was a start- up at the time. It’s in our culture to recognise and support innovation. I’m the lead on Taylor Wessing’s social mobility programme and our partnership with Future First is an important part of that.
Future First runs our Career Insight Days for Years 12 and 10 students. Around 40 students from five/six different schools take part each time and we run three a year. Schools from all over the UK are given the chance to send students along – we’ve even had schools from Wales travel to London. These days open their eyes to the vast array of job options open to them at Taylor Wessing and other organisations. We also focus on developing students’ transferable skills in presentation, networking and communications.
Students take so much from the day. Young people particularly like the interview technique session. It gives them the unique opportunity to benefit from the direct feedback and advice of Taylor Wessing employees. They walk away from the day with more knowledge, greater self-awareness and tangible advice which they can put to use immediately. The experience energises young people and gives them the confidence to enter the system.
At the recent Insight Day, I interviewed three very capable students. What struck me was the range of experience they already had, from working in McDonalds to supporting church groups and helping at a playgroup. Yet they assumed these skills weren’t relevant to their future working life. We were able to draw out how their skills can be transferred and highlight the value of what they are doing now.
One of the keys to the success of our partnership with Future First is the number of Taylor Wessing volunteers involved. Many volunteers are trainee solicitors who have fairly recently gone through the process of making important decisions about their education and career, meaning they can relate to the students. The impact of the day is certainly two-way. Both our employee volunteers and the students taking part are challenged and developed. Our staff also have their horizons stretched by working with today’s young people. They get to feel the pulse of changing perspectives and modern attitudes.
We also run a programme called Tomorrow’s Talent, which is a two week work experience programme in August for 17-year-olds who wouldn’t usually have access to this kind of opportunity. Students from Future First’s member schools are able to apply for this programme. We’re now starting to see students who have attended the days come back to interview for training contracts. This shows us that being able to put forward progressive opportunities helps to motivate young people.
We’re always looking for ways to evolve and improve our social mobility strategy. This September we are launching our first apprenticeship scheme, with no minimum qualification requirements – the assessment process is based entirely on skills. We are the only law firm to do this at present. The path to law tends to follow the traditional university route but our scheme provides much more flexibility. We’re excited to share more details in the autumn. Perhaps soon we will see students from the Career Insight Days applying!”