labour market

QBE Foundation partners with Action Tutoring to expand support

19 July 2023

In a bid to scale up access and impact of tutoring to over 12,000 pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, QBE Foundation is investing more than £1.5 million in its partnership with Action Tutoring within the next three years.

QBE’s funding will significantly increase the number of disadvantaged pupils who receive tutoring support and enable the charity to reach more remote and hard-to-reach locations. The partnership aims to help narrow the attainment gap, which is at its widest in ten years at both primary and secondary levels.

With the government set to end the funding for the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) in 2024 and schools struggling with budget squeezes, the future of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is at serious risk without funding support to keep catch-up interventions afloat.

Supporting young talents

“We want to create resilient and inclusive communities. We’re excited to partner with Action Tutoring because they do this through developing skills and supporting talent. It is wonderful to help children reach their full potential. Investing in them at an early age also offers fantastic returns.”

Grant Clemence, Chairman of QBE Foundation, said

Children from low-income backgrounds are on average 18 months behind their wealthier peers by the end of GCSEs. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated existing education inequalities, hitting historically disadvantaged students the hardest.

Expand our support

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring, believes the partnership will accelerate the work of the charity in education recovery and fight inequalities.

“Achieving good GCSEs in both English and maths is critical to young people being able to progress to further education, employment or training. This not only benefits their individual lives but creates a healthy workforce and ultimately benefits the wider economy. Skills shortage is a chronic problem for businesses. This funding aims over a five-year period to help us tutor twice as many pupils as we do today, and also expand our reach from urban to rural areas.”

Susannah Hardyman
A tutor teaches a pupil

Through the funding, Action Tutoring will partner with more state schools to provide maths and English tutoring to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. The support will help more young people to make meaningful academic progress and open doors to higher education and employment opportunities.

The QBE Foundation has committed to a minimum of three years of funding with an annual contribution of at least £500K, with the ambition that the partnership and funding will extend to five years and beyond. QBE employees across the country will be able to volunteer to provide regular tutoring in local schools, using Action Tutoring’s structured programmes and resources.

Worthwhile partnership

Since the summer term, some QBE employees have already been volunteering as tutors on programmes in schools. Sophie Miller-Molloy, an employment lawyer at QBE who started tutoring pupils in Newcastle’s Tyneview Primary School remotely, said the ability to boost the studies and confidence of young people are her driving motivations.

“Taking some time out each week to volunteer and do something which is going to help someone else out in a meaningful way also gives me the boost to volunteer.  It’s part of my week that I look forward to the most. It’s such a great contrast from my day-to-day legal work,” Sophie said. “I’m really grateful that QBE partners with Action Tutoring and it’s great that QBE empowers its employees to participate in such a fantastic and worthwhile scheme.”

Sophie Miller-Molloy

Profound impact

This partnership will be a significant boost for Action Tutoring’s work, propelling the charity to expand its impact to rural areas and bolster the advocacy efforts to ensure tutoring is embedded in the education system permanently.

By harnessing the expertise of trained volunteers to provide high-quality small group tutoring, Action Tutoring will profoundly impact more children from disadvantaged backgrounds with this investment.

Investing in tomorrow’s workforce today: How tutoring can help solve the skilled labour shortage

4 April 2023

The labour market in the UK is at a crossroads. Businesses and the public sector are still grappling with a chronic worker shortage, making it harder to recruit enough skilled workers to fill open roles.

According to the Open University’s 2022 Business Barometer, more than two-thirds (68%) of the UK’s small-medium businesses are currently facing skills shortages. This figure rises to 86% of large organisations and the knock-on effect is reduced output, profitability or growth.

The challenge persists as the economy faces the triple threat of rising inflation, sluggish growth, and post-pandemic disruption.

With the nation’s economists and labour experts working around the clock to find a way to tackle the lingering labour challenge, there is a medium to long-term solution that could prove beneficial to the economy beyond the stop-gap measures – supporting students at crucial points in their education.

What’s the cost of inaction?

A Learning and Working Institute report found that the skills shortage is expected to cost the country £120 billion by 2030. It also predicts a shortfall of 2.5 million highly skilled workers in seven years. 

The big question remains: why aren’t we tapping into the unlocked potential of the next generation and how can we achieve this?

The young people in schools today are the future workforce so it should be in the interest of the business community to want to support young people in any way to excel. One practical thing is for people in business to volunteer as tutors to ensure the workforce of tomorrow gets the maths and English qualifications needed to move into further education or employment.

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring, in a recent Facebook Live interview.

Each year tens of thousands of young people slip through the net and end up as not in education, employment, and training (NEET) simply because they couldn’t get a pass grade in their English or maths GCSE. New figures from the Office of National Statistics estimate that over 788,000 people across the UK are NEETs and each individual is estimated to cost the economy £120,000 over the course of their lifetime.

Education in this country is unfair

Most NEETs are far more likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds and lacked access to the tools and resources to support their learning and pass their final examinations. The opportunities for disadvantaged young people will continue to be hampered without equal access to the quality and holistic education many of their better-off peers benefit from. 

A proven solution for moving young people from at risk of failing their exams to passing is consistent, tailored, and quality tutoring to augment learning in the classroom. According to Action Tutoring’s analysis, 72% of disadvantaged pupils passed their maths GCSE after attending at least 10 tutoring sessions, despite two years of pandemic disruption and being at risk of failing to pass. This is a clear example of what is possible if tutoring is entrenched as a permanent fixture for all disadvantaged young people in schools.

Over 70% of NEET individuals can be supported to progress into employment, training, or education to fill the existing gaps in the labour market. If we fail to catch ‘at risk’ pupils soon enough, we are losing a prized opportunity to tackle the labour shortage hurting our economy, according to the Bank of England

The role of business in addressing labour shortage

Businesses are directly affected by the skilled talent deficit as the problem doesn’t only impact staffing strength but also the supply chain network, overall productivity and customer experience. Long delays in delivery time and underwhelming output are likely to affect multiple sectors until more workers are hired to fill the gaps.

A number of proposals have been floated by economic researchers and business owners including upskilling or reskilling prospective workers, expanding temporary work visas, increasing wages and Jeremy Hunt’s continuing appeal for retired and post-work citizens to rejoin the labour force.

To stay proactive and ahead of the curve, the onus is on businesses to adapt to the changing dynamics of the labour market and employ novel strategies to help address the problem.

The shift towards hiring more younger talents straight out of high school is already happening. The Financial Times reported that as the skills shortage bites, UK employers are looking to diversify their hiring stream. About 23 per cent of companies surveyed by the Institute of Student Employers plan to “rebalance” hiring from university graduates to young people with only high school level education. 

It’s in the best interest of businesses and industry to support the hundreds of thousands of young people who fail to meet national standards in English and maths, often set as a minimum requirement for job applications. This can be achieved by embedding volunteer tutoring of primary and secondary pupils into their corporate strategy to help nurture talent.

Volunteer tutor interacts with pupils in community school

Leading by example

One business that has successfully embedded volunteer tutoring of young people into its community engagement strategy is Arup, a global sustainable development consultancy. By tutoring young children for an hour each week, their employees are not only imparting knowledge but also using the opportunity to encourage more young people to consider pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

The business is using its public-facing interaction with young people to identify, nurture and support budding talents who have an interest in engineering, design, and architecture. In turn, it’s helping to jumpstart the careers of young people to potentially benefit the company, the sector and the wider economy in the medium to long term.

Rethink talent strategy

We believe every business should rethink its talent acquisition strategy and play its part in laying the foundations for its future employees. It’s time for brands to become more involved in cultivating talent at the grassroots stage.

Key to the door or having the door slammed in your face?

For young people in school, passing GCSEs is more than just an exam pass, it’s the first rung on the career ladder and the key to the door of opportunity. If businesses invest in young people at school, through volunteer tutoring and mentoring, together we can prevent their transition into economic inactivity.

The link between school and business can be valuable if more people in business go into schools, not only volunteer but also share career experiences with young people. The support is about increasing pupils’ life chances so they can progress into further study and any employment routes of their choice so they are not held back by the barrier of not having the English and maths qualifications employers are looking for. The knock-on effect is that they will contribute to having a ready workforce for the future.

Susannah Hardyman

Can we really afford to lose a quarter of our future workforce because we didn’t invest the time when it was needed the most?

Partner with Action Tutoring as a business to support more pupils from low-income backgrounds to access additional academic support to progress in further education and employment.