The Gatsby Benchmarks

Gatsby Benchmark 5: Encounters with employers and employees

Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace.

How to organise encounters with employers 

Ask your school's Careers Leader, Enterprise Adviser or East Sussex Careers Hub to introduce your school or college to local employers and employees. The Careers Partners section of Compass Plus will give you access to other providers of employer encounters. 

 Several national organisations also facilitate employer encounters:

How to involve parents

One way to increase the number of employers and employees taking part in careers activities is by involving parents - both online and face-to-face. The Career Share campaign encourages parents and carers across Sussex to tell students about their own career journeys through:

  • Making a video of their workplace
  • Virtual or in person chats
  • Speed networking
  • Mentoring
  • Work Experience
  • Teacher CPD
  • Careers Fairs
  • Assemblies.

For more information and resources for schools visit Get Career Confident.

Employer encounters during Covid-19

Guidance from the Careers and Enterprise Company is that, to include an (online) activity under Benchmark 5, it must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • There is evidence that the student actively participated.
  • Learning outcomes are defined, based on the age and needs of students.
  • Encounter involves two-way interaction between students and employers/employees.

 During lockdown, students can still experience employer and employee encounters via live or recorded videos, and these will still meet the requirements of Gatsby Benchmark 5, provided you add in the extra elements described below.

Introduce students to priority sectors in the East Sussex economy by showing this short video, featuring employers from health and social care, the land-based sector, visitor economy, engineering, creative and digital. You could then invite a speaker from one of the industries to talk to the learners via Zoom/equivalent. 

Videos of individual people talking about their jobs can be found at Get Career Confident, Culture Shift and via the East Sussex County Council YouTube channel on the Careers Hub playlist. Nationally, iCould, LearnLive, the Wow Show and BBC Bitesize Careers present a wide range of films by careers subject and job type.

To 'count' for Gatsby 5, the Careers and Enterprise Company advises that virtual activities must have (i) evidence that the student actively participated (ii) defined learning outcomes, based on the age and needs of students (iii) two-way interaction between students and employers/employees.

To achieve two-way interaction, add a Q&A with the employer/employee. You can have the employer 'visit' the classroom via MS Teams or Zoom, projecting the meeting onto a screen. If your school doesn't permit live digital encounters, the Q&A can be via email between the Careers Leader and the employer.  Alternatively, have the employer set the students a task to complete, individually or in groups, providing feedback. Or ask several employers to provide mock interview practice by phone or online, with appropriate safeguarding processes in place. This 'how to guide' for organising mock interviews online will help with planning. For further information about managing safeguarding for digital encounters, contact the Careers Hub at 

Teaching resources to accompany employer videos

Student worksheet for any video

Student worksheet for Careers Hub video

Lesson plan for any video

Lesson plan for Careers Hub video

Employability skills and employer encounters

The Careers Hub has produced ten videos and lesson plans to develop learners' employability skills, themed around the ten Skills Builder skills. See slide five (notes section) of each lesson plan to access the video link. These lessons can be delivered in tandem with an employer encounter, to deepen students' learning:

Aiming high

Staying positive







Problem solving


Youth Employment offers free skills training for young people aged 14 to 24. Encourage your students to enrol on the best one for their age group. Teachers can also sign up to receive teaching resources and there is also a suite of quick videos (around 2 minutes each) for students to get ‘virtual work experience’ themed insights, plus two workbooks for ‘virtual work experience’, for key stage 4 and 5, each of which takes around an hour to complete.

Online interview skills

Prepare your students for online interviews by showing them this short video, featuring East Sussex employers giving their advice.

Face-to-face employer encounters

  • Have students meet school alumniFuture First can organise this for schools.
  • Creative Cafés enable students to meet diverse employers informally and sample a selection of work-related tasks. Culture Shift can help you to set this up.
  • Open Doors Programme allows students to tour the workplace. Find out more from
  • Work experience happens throughout the year. If you are interested in providing work experience, please contact
  • Careers Talks in assemblies, in class or online, via live or recorded video.
  • Networking with employers helps young people become more confident talking to adults, by having quick fire conversations and answering employability questions. 
  • Mock Interviews Schools will supply employers with suggested questions and employers can give feedback and coaching.  
  • Careers days or careers fairs Schools like employers to have a stand, with interactive activities to promote their business in an eye-catching way. 
  • Use school trips to promote employee encounters, by having students prepare questions to ask people in different job roles and share their learning afterwards.

Good practice examples of employer encounters

  • The Hastings Opportunity Day 2019 featured employer-led activities that were showcased in a range of venues across Hastings - plenty of ideas to inspire you:
  • iCan is an annual event where students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can meet employers. To find out more watch the iCan video and access resources on the Gatsby Benchmark 3 page. If you would like further information or would like to be involved in iCan 2021 please email :


Help with Gatsby Benchmark 5 

Ask your Enterprise Coordinator and Enterprise Adviser for further advice and consult the Careers and Enterprise Company's resource directory.