IT IS NOT unusual for schools to welcome work guests to inspire their students’ career planning. But in Milton Keynes it is a habit thanks to local charity Worktree, which has been celebrating its 30th birthday.
The charity has delivered around 250,000 employer encounters for school students in Milton Keynes since it set up in 1992, including 50,000 work experience placements and 25,000 ‘Career WorkOut’ experiences.
Last year alone, Worktree organised online conversations for 8,000 students from 20 schools with 700 employee volunteers from 300 companies.
Alan Bullen, chair of Worktree’s trustees, said: “We are a small charity with a big vision that every worker, no matter what their job or background, should give some time to answer students’ questions.
“Now we are doing it online, it is just 40 minutes. You just click into the Virtual Career WorkOut meeting and join four other workers with a teacher and a class of about 25 students. It’s easy to sign up and we welcome new volunteers.”
Worktree hosted a special 30th Birthday and Awards reception to mark its anniversary. Guests included the Mayor of Milton Keynes Cllr Amanda Marlow, Debbie Brock High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, and Peter Horrocks, chair of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership.
Cllr Marlow said: “It is important for our young people’s career planning that they get to see the fast-changing world of work as it currently is. The high volume and variety of employer encounters which are delivered by local charity Worktree are of great benefit to both our young people, and to local employees who clearly enjoy passing on their experiences.”
Winners of Worktree’s Volunteering Awards included Dentons, Network Rail, Santander, KPMG, Kier Group, Thames Valley Police, Volkswagen Group, Natwest Bank, Ringway Infrastructure Services, Cummins Electrified Power, Xero and SMC Pneumatics.
Dentons partner David Payton received Worktree’s award for the highest overall number of sessions volunteered this year by a single company, with 167. A total 129 Dentons staff have met with a total 8,095 students in 300 Career WorkOut sessions, he said.
“It has been enjoyable and productive working with Worktree over the years,” Mr Payton added. “It is a great way for us to both talk to young people and motivate our staff in the process.”
As Network Rail’s head of strategic planning, Richard Moody took part in many Career WorkOut sessions. He has just been promoted to programme director (freight reform) at Network Rail, whose national centre is outside Milton Keynes Central station.
He said: “I find volunteering for Worktree extremely rewarding both from being able to support pupils in thinking about their future careers but also how it makes me more positive about my work. I am extremely proud of the support my colleagues from across Network Rail have provided Worktree.’’
Find out more about Worktree and its Career WorkOut sessions at www.worktree.org/events