Home / News

Stepping into the world of work: making it easier for businesses to deliver work placements for young people

A new work experience framework, which will help employers work together with schools and colleges to give young people experience of the world of work, is now available in the North East. Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains how it works.

Providing young people with first-hand experience of the world of work is something which can help set them up for the future. It allows them to explore a range of jobs, develop skills which they’ll need once they leave school, and it helps to break down stereotypes and preconceptions about the kinds of roles that they see themselves going into.

For employers, it builds links with the next generation and allows you to raise the profile of your business and sector with tomorrow’s workforce. But creating a work experience programme isn’t always easy.

We know that businesses in our region recognise the importance of work experience, but we also know that some businesses want support to develop relationships with schools and to make sure that their placements are giving young people a really meaningful experience of the workplace which builds on what they learn in the classroom.

This is why the North East LEP team has worked with employers, schools and colleges to develop a new work experience framework.

The framework is freely available online for employers and schools to use, and it provides a structure for placements, making sure that young people get a meaningful experience, and helping businesses to carry on with their work experience programmes in the wake of the pandemic.

The framework contains 12 modules which cover topics such as goal-setting and employer feedback. It helps schools and businesses to structure their placements, including options for face-to-face or virtual experiences, or a blended approach. And it helps students to prepare for their placement, meaning that they begin with an understanding of your business and what they want to gain from their time with you.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses are producing videos and 360 degree tours, and the framework shows you how to make the most of these and make them part of a comprehensive work experience programme.

The framework can be adapted to suit businesses of different sizes and in different sectors, and if you would like more support to create your work experience programme, the skills team at the North East LEP is on hand to help.

We piloted the framework with the help of 750 secondary students who told us that it helped them to understand expectations in the workplace, and their own strengths and skills. “It was a brilliant experience. I would love to do it again. Thank you so much,” said one student.

The response from businesses has been really positive as well, with 100% of businesses that took part in the pilot saying that the framework was easy to use, flexible and adaptable.

As businesses, schools and communities begin to recover from the impact of COVID-19, the importance of high quality work experience for young people can’t be forgotten. Now this framework is available, I hope as many businesses as possible will make use of it and help young people in our region take their first steps into the world of work.

The North East LEP’s work experience framework is available at NorthEastAmbition.co.uk.

Home / News

Remedying skills shortages in the health and life sciences sector

The new North East Health, Life Sciences and Medicines Manufacturing Strategy aims to double the number of jobs in this sector in the North East, and also to double the number of businesses active in the sector. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Interim Programme Manager for Health and Life Sciences, Karen Burgess, explains how the sector is working together to tackle barriers to growth, including a shortage of specialist skills.

Health and life sciences is an area where the North East has significant strengths, and it’s an area where we know there’s real potential for growth. We launched the North East Health, Life Sciences and Medicines Manufacturing Strategy earlier this year to identify the opportunities for expansion, and also to tackle any challenges that might be in the way of businesses creating more and better jobs in our region.

One challenge which was quickly identified is skills. We carried out research with medicines manufacturing businesses in our region and found that, while most businesses operating in this sector have plans to expand their workforce, many of them experience difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff with the skills they need.

Of course, plans to recruit more staff is a positive, and will help us reach the goal of increasing the number of jobs in the sector from 12,000 to 24,000 by 2030. However, as businesses grow and advertise more vacancies, the existing skills shortage will be exacerbated.

Our research into skills needs of these businesses found that:

  • Just over 80% of the medicines manufacturing companies that we spoke to currently have vacancies at their North East sites
  • 55% of organisations have had trouble filling vacancies due to candidates lacking digital skills
  • 100% of organisations we spoke to have experienced difficulties filling vacancies due to candidates lacking technical skills, experience or qualifications
  • 72% of employers pay the apprenticeship levy but the total number of apprenticeships in the sector is low

It’s clear that we need to take action to help businesses recruit more effectively and upskill their existing workforce where necessary. That’s why the North East LEP has formed the new Health and Life Sciences Skills Group, where industry, educators and skills awarding bodies are working together to build a skills framework to enable the sector to grow and thrive in our region.

The group aims to build stronger links between employers and education providers, so that we can make sure that students are equipped with the skills that employers will need in the future, and that businesses have the opportunity to help inspire young people about the range of careers paths on offer to them.

By collaborating to address the issues employers face around the recruitment and upskilling of staff, we can grow our pool of talent with the specialist skills needed in the sector and support the workforce to adapt as the manufacturing process becomes digitalised, increasing the need for people to acquire more digital skills. The group will also support the next phase of our research to understand the skills needs of other areas of the life sciences sector.

By bringing industry and educators together, I’m confident we can remedy the problems raised by skills shortages, and build a healthier, stronger environment for businesses to grow.

Read the Health and Life Sciences Skills Report here, and email [email protected] to find out how to get involved in the Health and Life Sciences Skills Group.

Home / News

No limits: helping primary pupils fulfil their potential

A year on from the start of a new project to improve careers guidance for primary pupils, Matt Joyce, Regional Lead – North East Ambition, at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, takes a look at what’s been achieved so far.

There’s increasing evidence to show that children begin to form ideas about their futures when they’re as young as five or six. And by the age of 10, many young people have already made career limiting decisions, which are fixed by the time they’re 14.

That’s why, in 2019, we began working with 70 primary schools in the North East to pilot a new approach to careers education for younger school children.

The Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot project builds on what we learnt when the North East was the pilot region for implementing the Gatsby Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks – which lay out requirements for different elements of careers guidance, from encounters with employers, to engagement with further and higher education providers – in secondary schools and colleges. The project has had a remarkable impact on the quality of careers guidance young people receive and we knew there was the potential to adapt the framework to meet the needs of younger children as well.

In September 2019 we began work on the primary pilot, testing the new framework with primary schools spanning a range of geographies and settings. Each school carried out an initial audit of their careers provision and we worked with Careers Leaders to identify gaps in provision and to create an action plan for each school.

So, has the project had the impact we hoped for? It’s been more than a year since we set out on this journey and we’re now in a position to look at what’s been achieved so far and whether it is helping primary-age children to learn about the full range of possibilities open to them in the future.

The interim evaluation which we commissioned has shown evidence of a positive impact on pupils already, with some massive improvements in young people’s ability to talk about and understand their career options being reported. 81% of the schools surveyed said that pupils better understand the links between what they are studying and future career options, and 89% that pupils are able to talk more about their career plans.

There’s been a jump in primary Careers Leaders’ confidence as well, with 88% saying they now rate their knowledge, skills and understanding as good or very good, compared with 10% when we started.

The evaluation also shows significant progress is being made against the Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks, and 82% of survey respondents say careers-related learning is now part of their school’s general curriculum, and no longer a standalone activity or an extra-curricular specialism. Activity also ranges across the key stages, while remaining age-appropriate.

These improvements are shown across the board, in schools with a range of Ofsted ratings and with diverse cohorts of pupils. And the work within primary schools links directly with the Benchmarks framework which is in place in secondary and further education, easing young people’s transition from primary school and giving them a better baseline of understanding and experiences when they start secondary school.

Going forward we’ll be implementing the various recommendations that came out of the evaluation and I hope that, once the pilot finishes in just under a year’s time, we’ll be able to expand our work to help more primary schools improve their careers guidance.

There’s currently no statutory requirement for primary schools to provide careers guidance but we know it’s vital if young people are to be given the best possible start in life. The engagement we’ve seen from the 70 schools involved in the pilot has been amazing and shows that they see the importance of this work as well. I hope that, together, we can help more children reach their full potential.

Read the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot evaluation report on the North East Data Hub here.

Home / News

Challenge North East: the story so far

Challenge North East is an innovation programme, launched to identify solutions to issues created by COVID-19 and to enable SMEs to develop and test these solutions with large regional partners who could adopt them. Programme Director, Sarah Cox, gives an update on the response from businesses in the North East, and the drive to fast-track products that could help the region recover from the pandemic.

In December last year we put out a call to North East SMEs, asking businesses to put forward ideas that could help our region – and potentially the rest of the UK – recover from the impact of COVID-19/

The pandemic had a huge impact on businesses and communities in our region and we knew that innovation could play an important part in our recovery. We wanted to fast-track the development of new solutions, and provide SMEs with an environment where they could test and iterate, using an open innovation framework to bring organisations together.

But before we could ask SMEs to put forward ideas, we needed to narrow our focus and identify key areas where we could have the biggest impact, and help the greatest number of people.

After working with a range of large organisations and community groups, we identified two challenges which urgently needed solutions: how to safely bring people together for in-person events, like gigs, exhibitions or performances; and how to ensure vulnerable people’s safety when delivering services in the home, like health visits and home repairs.

We understood that SMEs are themselves stretched and facing uncertainty, so we wanted to provide a support system and a clear, rapid process for them to develop ideas with the potential for adoption. challenge North East was launched in late 2020, with the ultimate aim of funding the development of new solutions to these two challenges.

We’ve been lucky to have the support of organisations like Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Newcastle Hospitals, Northern Gas Networks and others, who have helped us understand the detail of these challenges, and are also providing a means of testing potential solutions. By bringing these supporting organisations together with SMEs, we’ve been able to speed up and de-risk the process of innovation, connecting businesses with large organisations that can provide feedback and a route to market for any new products.

More than 60 SMEs entered the challenge, with submissions ranging from virtual queuing systems for events, to smart devices that can monitor patients’ health in their homes. 16 have now been selected to progress to the next stage of the challenge, and the ideas which will have the greatest impact and which have the best chance of commercial success and social impact will be awarded funding towards further development and scaling up.

We launched Challenge North East with an open mind, and the programme has responded at every stage to the needs of our local communities and industry. The goodwill and willingness of people to work together has been truly inspiring and these SMEs are beacons of success in a difficult time.

With innovation, when you start you’re never certain of the end result, but Challenge North East has given us a route forward together.

Find out more about Challenge North East.

Home / News

North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“As we mark the anniversary of the first lockdown, today’s data release is a timely reminder of the changes which COVID-19 has meant for our labour market. It provides the latest official data which includes regional employment information for the three months up to and including January 2021 and also annual comparisons.

“In the most recent months, the headline data has been stable. The employment rate in the North East region, which includes the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas, remains the lowest in England at 71.3 per cent, 0.1 percentage points higher than in the last quarter but 0.4 percentage points down on a year ago.

“The region has the second highest unemployment rate (6.2 per cent of the economically active) and the highest proportion of working age people who are economically inactive (23.8 per cent). Almost 30,000 workers in the region have been made redundant during the past year.

“However, some of the recent impact of COVID-19 has been masked by an increase in the use of furlough in the region. Over 114,000 North East employments were furloughed at the end of January, more than double the total of three months earlier. Most furloughed workers continue to be classified as employed in the official statistics.

“The impact on different groups in our population has been different. Younger people have experienced particular challenges both in employment and training and there have also been different patterns in the impact for men and women in the past year. The number of unemployed women has increased by 14 per cent, while male unemployment is lower (by about 8 per cent). Almost 52 per cent of furloughed workers in the North East at the end of January were female.

“The progress we are seeing towards the lifting of lockdown restrictions offers hope for the thousands of businesses unable to trade. Support for these businesses remaining under restrictions needs to continue.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with government as we look to drive forward our economy and address some of the key challenges which COVID-19 has created in our region.”

Home / News

Ground-breaking Careers Pilot Hailed a Success

An independent evaluation of the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance Pilot has been releasedThe North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) played a central role in the Pilot and Skills Director Michelle Rainbow reflects on this and how even after the Pilot was completed, the Benchmarks have remained at the heart of the North East Ambition programme.  

I was so proud when I read the evaluation – to hear the Pilot described as transformational and to know that the North East played such a pivotal role has been a real honour.   

We’ve always believed that the right careers education can have lifelong rewards for young people and to see that recognised independently today is fantastic.  

We started with 12 schools, three colleges and one pupil referral unit taking part in the Pilot, which ran across two academic years (2015/2016 and 2016/2017). 

The Pilot was designed to support those schools and colleges to implement the eight Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance, evaluate how they were implemented, and identify what impacts might result from this. Today’s report notes the “observable and positive impact on learners, especially those who are most disadvantaged” – demonstrating the value that the Benchmarks can bring.  

The North East Strategic Economic Plan is our blueprint for growth in the North East. We know that skills and people are central to successful economies and through our work with the Pilot we’ve defined a programme with careers at its coreOur approach was bolstered by government integrating the Benchmarks into the national careers strategy, which requires every secondary school to adopt the Benchmarks and North East Ambition is here to support them to do that.  

North East Ambition’s key principle is “each and every”, making sure that every single student has the opportunity to access good careers guidance and recognise what their pathway could be. Why? Because we too believe it can be transformational.  

We have secured £3.1m European and match funding to support our North East Ambition programme that sees us working with 170 secondary schools and all nine of our FE colleges and two 6th form centres. This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to our pledge to work with each and every pupil in our region so that no one is left behind.  

We have also launched a new Pilot to adapt and translate the Benchmarks for primary aged pupils. There’s increasing evidence to show that children begin to form ideas about their futures when they’re as young as five or six. And by the age of 10, many young people have already made career limiting decisions, which are fixed by the time they’re 14. Imagine how we could change that trajectory if we could embed Benchmarks that related to primary aged pupils. We are one year in and our results are extremely encouraging.  

We haven’t let the impact of COVID-19 slow us down either. The trusted relationships we have built with the schools and colleges through over the past five years gave us the established network and routes into schools and colleges that we needed to continue to support young learners at the most challenging time. 

One of the things we have been incredibly keen to keep going is helping young people experience the world of work even during COVID-19 where they can’t physically get into workplaces. This is why, in response to requests from Careers Leaders, we have developed a Work Experience Framework, which will be launched next week. As an online resource, the site will support students and employers to facilitate virtual work experience  

The Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance Pilot was an incredible success and we are grateful that our partnership with the Gatsby Foundation enabled us to play such a critical role in it. But the work is not over – this is just the start as we continue to lead the way in showing our young people there is a world of opportunity available to them and anything is possible. 

Home / News

New report shows improving career guidance in schools and colleges leads to better student outcomes and attitudes, and raises aspirations

Improving career guidance in secondary schools and colleges can lead to better student outcomes, while also raising aspirations and increasing engagement with education, according to the final evaluation of a four year pilot.

The evaluation, carried out by the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University of Derby, followed 16 schools and colleges in the North East of England as they implemented a career guidance framework known as the Gatsby Benchmarks. Findings within the report include:

  • Student Career readiness scores (a measure of preparedness for work) showed significant increases in all year groups across the four years of the evaluation
  • The greater the number of Benchmarks held, the greater the number of GCSE passes at A*-C/9-4 were achieved by each learner, even when gender, ethnicity, SEND status, FSM status, looked after status and Ofsted rating were statistically controlled for.
  • Between 2015 and 2019, learners at pilot colleges became increasingly more likely to achieve their learning outcomes, compared to learners at local colleges or all other colleges.

As well as this, teaching staff observed real changes in learner’s engagement in class. There was a reduction in learners querying the point of particular subjects or topics because they understood the relationship between knowledge/skills and their future career. Employers supporting the pilot also said that young people were better able to articulate their career ideas and talk about themselves, and were better informed about their options as well as the types of jobs available.

The pilot, begun in 2015, was set up to test how schools and colleges could use the Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance and what the impact would be on their students. The North East region was selected, and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership ran the pilot along with the Gatsby Foundation.

Following early results from the pilot, the Government adopted the Gatsby Benchmarks into their 2017 Careers Strategy for all schools and colleges in England, and has recently renewed its commitment to having the Benchmarks as a part of national education strategy in the ‘Skills for Jobs’ White Paper.

Alistair Cummins-MacLeod, Director of Student Experience, Engagement & Wellbeing at East Durham College, said: “The pilot and the Gatsby Benchmarks have helped raise careers education to a new level. Our students have certainly benefited from this. They are more aware of the opportunities and can make really informed decisions about what they want to do next.”

Dr Jill Hanson, Lead Author on the evaluation, said: “Following the pilot schools and colleges for four years has been incredibly exciting. We have watched them implement excellent career guidance programmes and were privileged to be able to see the difference this has made to the schools and colleges, to the staff and most importantly to the students. This pilot has had a positive impact on the knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations of students in the North East and it is important that this progress continues across the country.”

Beth Jones, Head of Career programmes at the Gatsby Foundation, said: “Careers guidance should never be seen as an ‘add-on’ to school or college learning. What this evaluation makes clear is the difference made to the lives of students when Careers as a priority.  As schools and colleges around the country continue to work towards the Benchmarks, we hope this evaluation will show them the amazing impact their work can have on their students.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director, North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “I was so proud when I read the evaluation – to hear the Pilot described as transformational and to know that the North East played such a pivotal role, was such an honour. We’ve always believed that the right careers education can have lifelong rewards for young people to see that has been recognised independently today is fantastic. We continue to keep the Benchmarks at the heart of our North East Ambition programme as a sign of our support and commitment to them.”

Ryan Gibson, Facilitator of the pilot at the North East LEP, said: “It was a privilege to lead the pilot, to work directly with schools and colleges and to see the transformational impact of the Benchmarks. The North East LEP, the pilot schools and colleges and the individual career leaders involved developed an approach that now underpins our national work towards ensuring that each and every young person benefits from world class careers provision.”

Image: Students at Harton Academy learning about careers.

Home / News

NewcastleGateshead Quays regeneration scheme awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund

NewcastleGateshead Quays – the landmark arena-led regeneration scheme on the banks of the NewcastleGateshead quayside – has been awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the creation of the new events destination and a new link road connecting Baltic Quarter with the A184 and Felling Bypass.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) manages the Getting Building Fund in the North East LEP area, which comprises Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland. The North East LEP Investment Board approved Gateshead Council’s funding application in December 2020.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Investment Board at the North East LEP, said: “The Getting Building Fund was created to provide investment to shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country that will help boost regional economic growth, fuel local recovery and create jobs.

“NewcastleGateshead Quays is a hugely significant project not just for Gateshead, but the North East LEP region as a whole. The £290m regeneration scheme is expected to create around 2,000 new jobs in the North East and provide a £60m annual boost to our local economy.”

£5m from the Getting Building Fund has been awarded towards the creation of a new North South link road in Baltic Quarter. The new road will connect Gateshead Quays with the A184 and Quarryfield Road, leading to the Felling Bypass and across to the Freight Depot strategic housing site. The plans also include a new Green Blue corridor, containing new landscaped walking and cycling routes, and the provision of habitats that encourage biodiversity.

A further £2m has been awarded towards critical infrastructure works around the construction of the new arena, exhibition and conference centre, hotels, multi-storey car park, and public spaces.

The planned Arena and Conference and Exhibition Centre project has previously been awarded £5m through the Local Growth Fund in 2017.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council said: “A lot of time, hard work and commitment has been put into producing a plan for the growth and prosperity of Gateshead and the region. These funds will be vital in achieving our ambitions for the wider Quays project and borough as a whole. We are aiming to future proof Gateshead and improve connectivity and infrastructure. This investment will go some way to realising those plans and help attract leisure and business visitors to the North East.”

The North East LEP region was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The 17 projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 as part of its package of support to kick-start the economy, create jobs and help areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

Home / News

£40,000 boost for North East retirement saving trials

The Department for Work and Pensions has today announced a £40,000 funding boost in the North East to help people take stock of their health, skills and wealth as part of later life planning.

With the pandemic impacting people’s lives in different ways, many will already be reviewing their current situation – including those wanting a fuller working life, those able to put more into their savings after a period of working from home, or those looking to improve their resilience for the future.

At a time where many are worried about job security, the “mid-life MOTs” will enable people to identify the skills they will need for the job journey they want, helping them make more informed choices and build their future financial resilience. This initiative will help workers to plan for the future they want.

Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion Guy Opperman said: “It’s no secret I am a huge fan of this idea and I’m excited to see the results of the North East LEP’s trials.

“While we started work on this before the pandemic, the last twelve months have bought people’s financial resilience into sharp focus – making a mid-life MOT a timely exercise for many.

“And it’s not just about retirement savings but also about enabling people to enjoy a fuller working life by helping them understand the skills they will need to learn along the way.”

The North East LEP is partnering with Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, to explore how to embed digital inclusion into promotion and take-up of a Mid-Life MOT in communities and with local employers.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP said: “In a region where employment rates have had the largest impact on 50-64 year olds, and Ofcom data shows that only 18 percent of people use the internet fully, the North East pilot will help people to overcome digital exclusion to access the online toolkit to assess their skills, health and finance and better plan for their futures.”

The trials will help the DWP understand:

  • The actions individuals take as a result of undertaking the mid-life MOT;
  • The user needs among those most at risk of experiencing long term unemployment;
  • The effectiveness of using local delivery channels and how these can complement the Money and Pensions Service (MAPs), the National Careers Service (NCS) and Public Health England (PHE), in supporting individuals with later life planning.

The funding given to the North East LEP is just one of ten to be given to LEPs across England. Each will receive up to £40,000 to develop, and implement, the mid-life MOT trials.