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Falling demand for careers advice at Norfolk schools sees charity close after 37 years

A Norfolk Education Industry and Commerce Group business skills event at Hethersett Academy in 2011. Picture: Sonya Duncan

A Norfolk Education Industry and Commerce Group business skills event at Hethersett Academy in 2011. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

A falling appetite for careers advice in schools has seen a charity which prepares pupils for the workplace shut up shop after almost four decades.

A Norfolk Education Industry and Commerce Group business skills event at Hethersett Academy in 2011. Trevor Jolley. Picture: Sonya DuncanA Norfolk Education Industry and Commerce Group business skills event at Hethersett Academy in 2011. Trevor Jolley. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Norfolk Education Industry and Commerce Group (NEICG) has decided to close after 37 years of work linking schools and businesses.

It began in 1980, when a group of local businessmen - led by Vic Gordon-Saker - set up the charity with the aim of helping schoolchildren prepare for the world of work.

They organised in-school sessions with pupils, including letter writing, CV preparation and practice interviews, with courses run at primary schools to give younger pupils a taste of how business works.

But “changing requirements in the curriculum”, the group said, meant demand has now dropped.

Richard Cranmer, headteacher at Archbishop Sancroft High School in Harleston. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHRichard Cranmer, headteacher at Archbishop Sancroft High School in Harleston. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Michael Edwards, a founding trustee, said: “The change in the curriculum meant there was less of a requirement for careers advice, and there was soon less interest in sessions.

“It’s a real shame because it means pupils might miss out on CV workshops and interview practice, which are extremely useful.”

He said schools’ increased control over their – tightening – budgets meant they had to keep a close eye on spending.

“While we are a charity, we’ve always had a small charge to cover our costs, and schools think they can do it in-house,” he said, “but how many actually do is another question.”

He said NEICG hoped to continue to work with the Royal Norfolk Show and Easton and Otley College.

Richard Cranmer, headteacher at Archbishop Sancroft High School in Harleston and a trustee of NEICG, said: “I am proud to have been associated with the charity that had enabled thousands of young people to engage with commerce and business through its work.

“For many this was a rare opportunity in their school lives to gain such experience and it undoubtedly helped many to make better career choices.”

Chairman of trustees Gary Iceton said he hoped “schools would continue to recognise the importance of close contact” with local firms. In 2011, responsibility for careers advice was passed to individual schools, and efforts to improve provision have been made since Ofsted said in 2013 not enough was being done.

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