West of England Mentoring (WEM) is a unique group mentoring programme that matches business mentors with groups of local school students aged between 12 and 15. We believe the employability, skills, and experiences of every kind of employee can be inspirational to school students.
The face-to-face programme consists of six two-hour sessions that take place for targeted student groups, five of which are held in the workplace and the sixth in the school, over 12 weeks. We have currently adapted the programme to do WEM virtually (VWEM). This involves six virtual sessions (max an hour long) over a period of six to twelve weeks, with business mentors working together to support a group of students based in a computer room with the school mentor lead overseeing each session.
Benefits for Businesses
Businesses see the benefits of getting involved in their local community, both in terms of the perception of their social responsibility and in attracting new employees. It is a great way to be introduced to a school in your local area and work with them and to start to build a meaningful relationship.
“After two successful years of running the West of England Mentoring scheme with Ablaze, we have noticed the benefit has been twofold. As a company, it’s been really positive to see the benefit of Herman Miller’s involvement in the development and confidence in these young people locally. We have watched them grow through the weeks. Internally we have seen an increase in engagement, a greater networking of colleagues and development of the mentor’s skills as part of this journey. The impact has been really beneficial for everyone and the feedback received has reinforced this each time.” Alexandra Hemns, Talent Management Consultant, Global Talent Management Team
Benefits for Mentors
Most mentors sign up because they are interested in young people and keen to get involved and give something back to their community. Our mentors come from all different backgrounds and with different routes into the workplace. This means that mentors can share their stories with examples of how they got into their chosen career, which is beneficial for the students and empowering for the mentors. Taking part also increases employee engagement and makes them feel part of a worthwhile organisation - as well as finding WEM really rewarding!
“My time at WEM has taught me one critical thing. The positive impact a 10-minute conversation can have on a young adult’s early career path. This may seem trivial, but the career development skills offered to students not only strengthens their understanding, nurtures their confidence, and broadens their career horizon, but gives way to the removal of the anxiety, doubtfulness and confusion that often clouds those early career decisions. This refinement and focus on a student’s passion, will undoubtedly, help strengthen the ethos of whatever organisation, business, or collective group of people that student choses to be a part of. “Sam Oliver, WEM Mentor Lead, Rolls Royce
Benefits for Students
This programme targets pupils who are capable but may benefit from extra encouragement to fulfil their potential. Typically, they will be from disadvantaged, challenging backgrounds with low aspirations but high capability. Mentors impart knowledge of workplace skills, employability opportunities and pathways, inspiring and motivating students to raise their aspirations. The activities encourage students to build confidence and communication skills, set goals and work out pathways to achieving them. Our volunteer business mentors can inspire and encourage them to realise the clear benefits of school, build their confidence and self-esteem and enable them to develop a clear and achievable career plan.
“The West of England mentoring programme has opened up an amazing opportunity for our students through partnering us with Herman Miller. We thank Herman Miller for supporting us for a second year, this time with a group of our Year 9 students. It was great to see the students’ confidence grow throughout the programme as they built up relationships with inspirational role models and became able to identify their own skills and realise their own potential. Through this programme, these students have had an invaluable insight into the world of work. The support, guidance and encouragement they received has increased their self-esteem and improved their understanding of the actions they can take to open up future career choices and paths.” Catherine Young, North Wiltshire WIN HE Adviser and Careers Leader at Kingsbury Green Academy
We do evaluation surveys with mentors and students and give a full evaluation at the end of the programme so all schools can see the impact of WEM and all businesses can see the difference they made.
Find out more about WEM and get involved
Contact Ceri Bowers, WEM Project Manager
Further information on Ablaze and the other programmes we run