In recent years, the main engagement with local schools was through Members and Freemen of the Company whose involvement varied. Some were governors and others were involved in various projects to improve education. Recently there has been criticism that schools do not provide young people with the skills to enter the workplace.
In 2010, the Master Cutler Bill Speirs agreed with Sheffield City Council that the Company would endeavour to connect schools more firmly to business in general and manufacturing in particular. A study was conducted into what business needed from school leavers and as a consequence of the findings, the Cutlers’ “Made in Sheffield” project was launched. This is intended to embed work skills into the curriculum through real life projects, work placements, internships, and greater engagement between businesses and schools. A Cutlers’ “Made in Sheffield” Passport is issued to those who have successfully completed the project. This will show the work and real life skills that they have gained and it will be signed off both by school staff and employers.
To put this into practice, the Master Cutler for 2011/12 instituted an Education Standing Committee comprising Members of the Company, representatives from the City Council and Work-wise (the organization chosen to provide the bridge between business and schools).
A pilot scheme ran for two years and proved to be a resounding success with it being extended from Engineering to various other sectors including the NHS and Construction.
In 2016 the project was expanded across South Yorkshire and with financial assistance from the Careers and Enterprise Company, 27 schools were engaged in what has now been re-named the ‘Better Learners Better Workers’ Scheme. The scheme has continued and for updates, please go to the website at http://www.betterlearnersbetterworkers.org.uk/