Spence, Sue and Hyams-Ssekasi, Denis (2015) Developing business students' employability skills though working in partnership with a local business to deliver an undergraduate mentoring programme. Higher Education, Skills and Work Based Learning, 5 (3). pp. 299-314. ISSN 2042-3896

Working collaboratively with local business is vitally important in the delivery of Higher Education in Further Education. This study aims to explore an effective way of engaging local employers to enhance the employability skills of students through a closely monitored and supported mentoring relationship. The project was developed in order to address the employability needs of final year business students at a higher education facility offered by a college situated in the North West of England.
Qualitative data was collected through the use of reflective journals and a series of focus groups with mentors and mentees
Overall both mentors and mentees reported positive responses to the mentoring scheme. From the mentees point of view self-confidence, employability skills and networks were enhanced. Mentors reported satisfaction in contributing to the local community. Challenges were found in matching mentors with appropriate mentees. A perceived poor match negatively affected the relationship. Mentors reported that mentees lacked career direction and seemed to have limited understanding of what was expected in the mentoring process.
Research limitations/implications
The scope of this study is one mentoring scheme in one institution and therefore has limited
generalisability. However, there are implications for the development of further mentoring schemes
in other institutions in the UK and beyond.
This mentoring scheme was carried out in FE that offers HE courses in a northern town with above
average levels of unemployment and with a diverse ethnic population. The scheme involves senior
managers volunteering to support business undergraduates.

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