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Tackling disadvantage

Through no fault of their own, many young people face inequalities that prevent them from reaching their full potential.

You'll find a number of inspirational Careers Champions highlighted below and you can use these social banners to celebrate your own Careers Champions who are tackling disadvantage through careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Tackling Disadvantage

Schools, Colleges, Cornerstone Employers, Careers Leaders, Careers Hubs and many other people and organisations help to deliver meaningful career-related experiences, that expose young people to the link between school and work, motivate them to work hard and help them develop essential skills. These types of opportunities can be the game changer for some of the most disadvantaged young people in society.

Let’s recognise all those whose work has created positive change in social mobility, reduced the disadvantage gap or enabled young people to consider a future without limitations. Watch the videos below to hear about Mo Isap and Dame Julia Cleverdon's highlights, and meet the Champions themselves…


Marie Wilkes, Willmott Dixon

‘Marie is passionate about improving opportunities for young people with SEND and she proves this in her actions and her deeds. This impacts positively on our students, it enables us to create and share learning and she shows other employers the way.’

Marie Wilkes

Social Values Manager, Willmott Dixon

Marie is committed to providing inclusive workplace opportunities for all young people in Birmingham including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

As an Enterprise Adviser and representative of a Cornerstone Employer, Marie is young-person-centred and is leading the way showing other employers what is possible. She adapts and accommodates to ensure young people with SEND feel fully immersed in the building sites. Moving experiences online for COVID has been a learning curve, but provided an opportunity to break down barriers and allow students to interact - and even meet her dog!

She feels passionately that young people with SEND should be given the same opportunities and chances as other students and her work is a real example of what can be done. Marie is a key part of the SEND Community of Practice and an employer lead for a SEND innovation project.

Thank you Marie for being an advocate and champion for young people with SEND and adapting to make sure all students can learn about careers and the options available to them in the future.


Emma Rehbein, Bridge Learning Campus

‘Emma Rehbein is a Champion for all of her students, supporting and guiding them to not only make informed decisions but to make them confident so that they can change their minds if they need to.’

Emma Rehbein

Careers Leader, Bridge Learning Campus

Based in an area of Bristol with high rates of unemployment, Emma faces challenges to support students who are looking to the future. She has transformed careers guidance at Bridge Learning Campus by building strong relationships with parents and carers, supporting them to help their young people.

Over her three years at the school, Emma has engaged parents and carers with invitations to careers fairs, information sessions about work experience, career meetings with students and parents, and support evenings where she has walked groups to college open evenings. She is committed to overcoming obstacles at every stage and worked with local businesses to provide free travel so her students could attend work experience without worrying about the cost.

Emma is passionate about the welfare of her students. She invests in her relationships - getting to know each student and their aspirations and this has continued during lockdown through phone calls home every week.

With experience of industry, Emma strongly believes that her students don’t lack aspiration but often struggle with belief and confidence and her work is going a long way to change that. Thank you Emma for your commitment to breaking down barriers and making the world of work accessible for all your students.

Stone Soup Academy logo

‘Stone Soup Academy, creating unimagined futures everyday.’

Stone Soup Academy

Alternative Provision, Nottingham

Based in the centre of Nottingham, Stone Soup Academy meets the needs of up to 80 young people who are either excluded or at risk of exclusion from mainstream schools. In 2018, they didn’t have any connections with industry and decided they wanted more for their students.

They saw the importance of involving the community and local businesses to help build the reputation of the academy and students and worked tirelessly to engage a number of local businesses. They now provide an elongated work experience for every student at companies including Crowne Plaza, John Lewis & Trent Bridge Cricket. This provides exposure to inspiring people in a variety of roles and environments.

For some young people, placements have also turned into offers of paid work, providing them with options after education. The academy feel strongly that providing students with a future means they then care more about the present, and their work demonstrates this. Their alumni have a sense of pride and the Stone Soup community supports young people with practical help to set them up for the future even after they have left the academy.

Thank you to everyone at Stone Soup for your commitment to raising aspirations, filling young people with confidence and showing them that they can go on to achieve in life.

Stone Soup Academy Staff

Margaret Clark, Severn Trent

‘Margaret Clark is passionate about Severn Trent supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. She recognised immediately the opportunity and provided a virtual platform to reach out to young people and inspire them about the diverse range of career pathways available.’

Margaret Clark

School Engagement and Work Experience Lead, Severn Trent Water

When schools went into lockdown, Margaret responded to a call for employers to develop innovative and meaningful virtual encounters for students.
Over the last 12 months, Margaret has adapted traditional work experience activities and made them into virtual sessions to work across different schools in Derby. Developed in collaboration with teachers, students interact with apprentices and graduates from Severn Trent and work on real life projects and presentations.
Margaret is passionate about about the water industry but knows this career might not be for everyone and ensures the programme includes skills which can be transferred to any career or sector. This includes advice on personal branding, CV writing and interview techniques. Each student has a virtual mock interview and despite feeling nervous, many young people choose this as their favourite experience. The flexible approach of the programme makes it accessible and allows it to reach more disadvantaged young people than a traditional work experience week.
As a Cornerstone Employer, Severn Trent are committed to making a difference and in her role as an Enterprise Adviser, Margaret sees the impact people from industry can have on young people. She enjoys seeing students grow in confidence and wants them to leave education knowing that they can go on to achieve in life.
Thank you Margaret for your commitment to young people and opening their eyes to a whole world of careers.