Students go behind the scenes of region’s biggest employers

First published on: 28th April 2022

Students from Duke’s Secondary School enjoying their Volunteer Experience Day at Smart Works Newcastle.

Pupils at Duke’s Secondary School in Ashington have been gaining valuable insight into what goes on behind the scenes at some of our region’s biggest employers as part of an ‘Industry Insight’ event.

The Year 11 and 12 students from Duke’s Secondary School in Ashington visited employers such as AkzoNobel, Bernicia, ORE Catapult, Northumberland Fire and Rescue and the Centre for Life to help them broaden their understanding of the wide range of career paths available to them in the local area.

The event comes just months after the school, which operates as part of Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust, announced its pilot programme with North East house builder, Bellway, which also has its roots in helping pupils to raise their aspirations and explore career opportunities in sectors they might not otherwise have considered.

Danielle Towers, Head of Sixth Form and Careers at Duke’s Secondary School, explained: “The pupils of today are the workforce of tomorrow, so it’s absolutely vital that while children and young people are still at school that they have the opportunity to explore as many different employment opportunities as possible, to help them make informed decisions about their futures.

“As part of the Industry Insight event, all of our Year 11 pupils had the opportunity to visit an employer which specialises in a subject area which was relevant to their current studies ahead of their exams in the summer.

“We were incredibly fortunate to gain support from so many fantastic local businesses so a big thank you goes out to everyone who got involved. The pupils all thoroughly enjoyed their experiences and took a lot away from them.”

Amongst the list of employers who took part in hosting visits for the event was not-for-profit organisation, Smart Works Newcastleb.

An exclusive service for women, Smart Works Newcastle is a local branch of a national organisation which supports unemployed women aged 16 plus and from all backgrounds to build their confidence and skills to help them secure work.

Offering a range of services for those attending job interviews, including a high-quality interview outfit (free and theirs to keep) and interview coaching, the charity also supports with CV writing and general careers advice. Smart Works Newcastle has supported hundreds and hundreds of women across the North East into successful employment.

A cohort of Year 11 and 12 students who had expressed an interest in careers that involved helping others took part in a full day’s work experience at Smart Works’ headquarters in Newcastle, supporting staff and volunteers with tasks such as stock taking, styling and dressing mannequins.

As part of the day, the students also got to participate in some career coaching and enjoyed a ‘working lunch’ with employees from the charity who shared their own experiences and varying routes into working in the sector.

Helen Boyd, Centre Manager at Smart Works Newcastle, commented: “It was a pleasure to welcome the group from Duke’s Secondary School into Smart Works Newcastle for a Volunteer Experience day. 

“The students helped us with stock sorting, visual merchandising, displays and mock client dressing. Throughout the day the students had a 1:1 planning session with our experienced coaches to offer guidance for their career choices. It was great to hear their plans for the future and we hope they got as much out of the day as we did.”

For more information about Duke’s Secondary School and Sixth Form, visit their website.

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