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Simply the BEST!

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Simply the BEST! When most people see these three words they think of the iconic Tina Turner and her amazing performance of this song.  In Lifelong Learning we think of something else. BEST stands for Business and Education Succeeding Together, and Wandsworth BEST  has been the local authority provider of work experience for young people for 25 years.

To be precise, the service recently celebrated its anniversary on May 7th.  When you consider that BEST provides at least 1,000 work experience placements each year, it’s incredible to think that at least 25,000 young people have benefitted from the service.

The main purpose of BEST is to connect the world of work with education. This has been achieved in a variety of ways and has included:

  • Work experience opportunities for young people aged 14-25
  • Employers visiting schools
  • Young people visiting employers
  • Generating additional funding to promote work related learning activities

If we think about the world of work in 1993 it was a very different place. Highlighting this point is an extract from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills 2014 report, The future of work: jobs and skills in 2030:

“It is not possible to predict the future. Twenty years ago, there was a widespread belief among commentators that the defining feature of the future UK labour market would be radically reduced working hours and increased leisure time.

Fast forward to 2014, the year in which mobile is set to overtake desktop to access the Internet, and work and leisure hours have become blurred by our increasingly ‘mobile’ lives. Jobs are being done on the move, at any time of day, in almost any location. This example highlights the difficulties involved in forecasting change….”

Following on from that is last year’s Department for Education, Careers strategy: making the most of everyone’s skills and talents; highlighting the fast changing education and training infrastructure, and the critical role for employers:

“Secondary schools should offer every young person at least seven encounters with employers during their education, with at least one encounter taking place each year from years 7-13”.

 Graham Stapleton, Headteacher at Graveney Academy has been the Chair of the BEST Board since it was created in 1993 and has championed the services offered:

“When we started this service 25 years ago, the education and economic outlook were very different from that of today.  Today, London schools are going from strength to strength and Wandsworth is booming, as illustrated by the wealth of new building projects.

Our work experience awards ceremony takes place this October, and we will make sure we celebrate our 25 years.”

 Perhaps the last word on work experience should go to Tuula Ball, Work Related Learning Coordinator for BEST. Tuula is the longest serving member of the team and has worked extremely closely with local pupils, schools and employers:

 “There is never a dull moment in the world of work experience and work related learning.

It’s a pleasure to connect young people to employers in Wandsworth and beyond, and to know that you are helping young people to make informed career choices. We also have a vibrant local market full of high quality work experience and employment opportunities.

The biggest change I have observed over the last 20 years or so is the impact of technology on the workplace and how it has excited and involved young people in a very different way.”

If you are an employer and interested in supporting the work of the BEST team please contact 020 8871 8630, 020 8871 8631 or 020 8871 8633 or e-mail tball@wandsworth.gov.uk


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