Volunteering with RSA

This guest blog is brought to us by Tom Ravenscourt, founder and CEO of Enabling Enterprise. Tom founded the Enabling Enterprise following his experience of teaching in Hackney, East London, where he saw a gap in how students were being equipped with essential skills to achieve their full potential

RSA Group plc - sun symbol of the logo only - colour

The Skills Builder Partnership, led by Enabling Enterprise, has been collaborating with RSA since 2012 to bring the world of work to life for hundreds of children and young people. The Partnership sets out core skills that underpin success at every stage of life: unlocking learning while at school, ensuring young people are fully prepared for the independence of university and college, and empowering people to land their dream job. As part of our mission to build the eight essential skills needed for success – whether at school, in employment or in further and higher education we’ve run a host of inspiring school trips at RSA locations across the country from London, to Birmingham, to Manchester.

Thanks in part to RSA’s ongoing support, the reach and impact of the Skills Builder Partnership has expanded year on year. We now work with more than 510 schools and upwards of 200,000 learners, helping to integrate essential skills education into the everyday curriculum. Our programmes – which include multi-session projects and whole-school challenge cays – reach a broad range of schools, many of which serve students in the most disadvantaged communities.

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Local schoolchildren visit the RSA office in Liverpool

Trips to employers are an indispensable part of these programmes, as they help students develop essential skills in a real-life context – as well as giving them a taste of what the working world is actually like. The most vital element of these trips is the interaction with volunteers from RSA, who give up their time to share their experiences and their workplace while collaborating on a skills-building challenge. Experiences with volunteers like these are vital for students developing essential skills; moreover, these interactions can be key moments on the journey a fulfilling career.

Not only do these young people get to meet inspiring people who are passionate about their work, but they also have the unique chance to see top-notch essential skills in action. Because the focus is on developing skills, volunteers can aid their teams by suggesting tried-and-tested strategies for good teamwork, or methods for boosting creativity from their own experience.

First, students meet the volunteers and quiz them about their career experiences – learning how they got their start and the different paths they can take into the professional world. Volunteers share where they use the essential skills in their everyday work:  talking through examples of whether they might show they are aiming high at work, or where their problem solving skills have been put to the test. This helps make the vital link between skills built in class, and the world of work.

We've run a host of inspiring school trips at RSA locations across the country
‘The people at RSA were so friendly. I was surprised that the bosses were so kind and took the time to talk to us and tell us about what they do.’ – Year 6 pupil

Next, students are taken on a tour, learning about RSA, the customers they serve and what it means to be a multinational insurance company. For students who have only seen the inside of a classroom, it can be really eye-opening for students to see what a real workplace looks like in action, and students are able to ask the volunteers questions along the way. For many, this is first time experiencing this kind of environment, so being able to talk first-hand with working people can be crucial in helping them to understand the range of careers available and helping them form their own ambitions.

‘I just can't believe the opportunity they are getting here today to come somewhere like this and just have their eyes opened to this whole other world.’ – Year 5 teacher
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The Skills Builder Partnership has been great for students and employees alike

Once the tour is over, students join forces with RSA volunteers to complete an industry-themed challenge designed to build skills called ‘Pitch Perfect’, where they discover how banks can support businesses with their finances. The central task is to secure a loan for a brand-new business venture of their devising, before running the initial set up of the business. Students demonstrate their leadership and presenting skills throughout the challenge, especially at the end when they present their achievements back to a panel of volunteers.

‘Their creativity has really blown me away. As an adult, it is a great reminder to think about things from different perspectives and with an open mind.’ – Volunteer, RSA London

By the end of the day, they’ve experienced a new environment, tried their hands at professional life, and usually made lots of new connections. An experience that’s not open to a lot of primary school children. But it’s not just a great opportunity for the students – it’s also been incredibly valuable for the volunteers. 

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