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In conversation with Sian Browne, School to Work Lead for the EY Foundation, about the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

Here in the North East, we’re leading the way in testing how we can offer inspiring careers guidance to primary school pupils.

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot takes the Government’s Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, originally developed for secondary schools, and adapts them for primaries.

Over two years, 70 pilot schools will test how they can implement and achieve the benchmarks; examining what works, where extra support might be needed and what impact the work has at a pupil and whole-school level.

The project is being led by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, supported by the EY Foundation and the European Social Fund.

Sian Browne, School to Work Lead for the EY Foundation, describes her recent visit to the North East to see some of the work that primary schools are already doing.

“The name ‘career enabling primary pilot’ is a bit of a mouthful, but it is something that I believe will have a massive impact. So, what does it mean? Put simply, it is a new programme designed to help children better understand possible future job opportunities available to them. It seems a long way off, but choices made at primary age can be crucial in shaping their future career.

“Developing this project with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been a passion of mine for almost two years, so the chance to see it in action was a huge thrill.

“Arriving in Newcastle, I spent a couple of days with our fantastic facilitator team. We started off with an inspiring meeting with the teachers who will be leading on delivering the pilot in their schools. Each of them showed impressive commitment, asking lots of questions, bringing loads of ideas and sharing good experiences.

“That was followed by a visit to a primary school taking part in the pilot. I met with a careers leader and headteacher who are already achieving great results with their pupils by introducing careers into their curriculum – so they seemed to already be one step ahead! They also talked to us of their meetings with interesting people from different fields of work, who shared their experiences with the children, including a geophysicist and a female naval surgeon.

“Perhaps my favourite moment was when I saw the pupils setting out their aspirations in their career books, with one young reception pupil saying they wanted to be a “tooth fairy”, a job I certainly did on many occasions!

“Next stop was the global automotive supplier Unipres, who hosted 72 students. Watching the young people try out virtual reality to load trucks and donning their special protective gear provided a glimpse of the future and was so uplifting. The apprentices spent time with each of them and were terrific role models. I’m certain some of those pupils now have their eye on an engineering apprenticeship when they get older.

“After so much time in the planning it was brilliant to see the early impact on all the children I met. We are so looking forward to working with them and their teachers over the next two years as they continue along the journey of improving careers enabling experiences.”

For more information visit northeastambition.co.uk.

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North East LEP supports conference aimed at inspiring next generation of female leaders

Hundreds of schoolgirls from across the region gathered at Northumbria University on Monday 16 September to attend Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG), one-day biennial North East Women (NEW) Leaders Conference.

Supported by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership through its North East Ambition initiative, the conference brought together female leaders from both within and outside the region to share their knowledge and experience with the aim of challenging gender inequalities and inspiring young women to take a leading role in whatever career or profession they choose.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, said: “This event provided a great opportunity for young women to hear first-hand about the career journeys of exceptional, hard-working and brilliantly successful females.

“We want all young people to be ambitious about the career opportunities that await them, no matter what their background or gender. Through our North East Ambition programme, we’re supporting schools and colleges across the region to offer a range of high-quality careers activities and experiences and achieve the government’s Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks.

“North East Ambition also links schools and employers more closely together, to identify and meet the skills demands of the future and support our aim of driving an uplift of 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.”

Speakers at the event included Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute; Debbie Edwards, CEO of FDisruptors; and Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director of the CBI.

The young delegates attended a series of Power Up Workshops offering tools to boost the girls’ futures, focusing on areas such personal branding, jargon busting and getting the best out of people. They also explored what leadership looks like now and in the future, and how they can develop their own personal authentic leadership attributes.

The North East LEP’s North East Ambition programme aims to ensure all North East schools and colleges achieve the government’s Good Career Guidance Benchmarks by 2024. By doing so, every young person should have access to excellent careers guidance that enables them to identify routes to a successful working life, make more informed decisions about their future and be better prepared for the workplace.

For more information, visit www.northeastambition.co.uk.

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North East pilot programme to raise career aspirations of primary schools pupils

Pupils from Bexhill Primary Academy in Sunderland visited global automotive manufacturer Unipres on Friday 20 September as part of a new pilot programme designed to build ambition from an early age.

The North East Ambition: Careers Benchmarks Primary Pilot, managed and delivered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and supported by the EY Foundation, is testing how the government’s Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks – eight clearly defined benchmarks for good career guidance – can be adapted for primary schools. It is funded by the European Social Fund.

During the visit, pupils worked alongside apprentices and staff at Unipres to discover more about the jobs they do and what skills they need for each role. They also got to try out some of the company’s state-of-the-art equipment, including its virtual reality crane and virtual reality welder.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This visit has been a great opportunity for younger pupils to experience what it might be like to work in the advanced manufacturing and automotive sectors, and I hope it has inspired some ambitious ideas.

“It’s fantastic to see significant regional employers such as Unipres actively involved in supporting the skills development of our young people from the very earliest age, and I am certain that these children will gain a huge amount from what they’ve experienced here today.

“Improving skills, access to employment and supporting career progression is at the heart of the North East Strategic Economic Plan.

“We can help to do that by ensuring young people of every age have meaningful encounters with a broad range of employers; and that they understand the link between the subjects they study in school and the career opportunities available to them. It may sound simple, but it’s a huge culture change for many schools.

“The North East Ambition: Careers Benchmarks Primary Pilot is part of our commitment to improve social mobility by supporting age-appropriate careers-related experiences from primary age.

“The pilot is about exploring how we offer young pupils consistently high-quality, careers-related learning that will spark curiosity, self-belief and hope for the future. Today’s event is an excellent example of just that.”

A total of 70 primary schools from across the North East LEP area are involved in the pilot. Each school has the support of a Facilitator to help them implement and achieve the benchmarks and an Action Researcher to capture the impact.

They can also access seed funding, provided by the EY Foundation, to help finance careers activities in or out of school.

The schools also get to be part of a community of Primary Careers Leaders, helping to deliver a shared vision for achieving the primary benchmarks.

Sian Browne from the EY Foundation said: “Research shows that decisions made at primary age can impact future work opportunities. So, raising awareness at an early stage about the employment options available is crucial. That is why the EY Foundation is delighted to be working with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership as they begin their pilot to develop and embed career-enabling benchmarks in primary schools. We hope these benchmarks will be rolled out across the primary sector, better preparing all pupils for the next stage of career and employment support at secondary school.”

The Careers Benchmarks Primary Pilot follows the North East LEP’s successful delivery of the Gatsby Careers Guidance Benchmark Pilot in 2015, which led to government launching new statutory guidance for schools on how to deliver careers education.

Maureen Askew, Unipres Training Academy Senior Controller, said: “It’s fantastic to welcome the pupils from Bexhill Academy to Unipres so they can discover what the engineering and manufacturing sector is really like, gaining an insight into the variety of exciting careers we offer.

“We believe it is essential that companies like ours from across the region work directly with schools to demystify industry, capture the imagination of these young people and show how the automotive industry remains a vibrant and vital sector in the North East.

“Unipres is absolutely committed to working with schools to support the Career Benchmarks agenda and help excite pupils about engineering and the many other opportunities on their doorstep.”

Laura Carr, Year Six teacher and careers lead at Bexhill Primary Academy, added: “We were keen to take part in the Benchmarks Primary Pilot as it is going to really help us to structure and build on the work we’re already doing in school around careers and skills.

“It’s been fantastic to visit Unipres today and the pupils have learned so much about the work that happens here, from accountancy to engineering, and the skills you need to do those jobs.

“Hands-on learning opportunities like this really excite and inspire the pupils, and I know they’ve all really enjoyed today’s visit, as well as gained a huge amount.”

Year Six pupil, Molly, said: “Today has been really exciting and I’ve learned all about the different kinds of jobs you can do here. The shop floor was the best bit, with the big machines. You could see everyone was working really hard.”

The North East Ambition: Careers Benchmarks Primary Pilot is delivered in partnership with EY Foundation, an independent charity that helps young people overcome barriers to gaining fulfilling employment.

In 2016, the EY Foundation and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) undertook research with 1500 young people about the challenges of getting into work in the 21st century. This identified the need for interventions at primary school age to develop employability skills and forge links with employers to better prepare young people for the world of work. Building on the success of new career guidance benchmarks for secondary schools (following a two-year pilot by the North East LEP and the Gatsby Foundation), the EY Foundation believes these benchmarks need to be adapted to the primary sector to enable a seamless transition from primary through to secondary education. The EY Foundation believes the pilot project in 70 primary schools across the North East is critical step towards achieving this. For more information visit www.eyfoundation.com.

The visit was brokered by EngineeringUK, who matched the school with Unipres. EngineeringUK is a not-for-profit organisation which works in partnership with the engineering community to inspire tomorrow’s engineers and increase the talent pipeline into engineering. Unipres works closely with EngineeringUK across the year to develop and promote work experience and skills development opportunities for local pupils. For more information visit www.engineeringuk.com.

For more information about the work the North East Local Enterprise Partnership is doing to improve skills and the quality of careers education in the region, visit www.northeastambition.co.uk.

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In conversation with Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University

Education employs 85,000 people in the North East and offers significant opportunities for more and better jobs in the region, directly and indirectly. Durham University is a world leader and has a ten-year strategy to invest £1 billion in people, and digital and physical infrastructures. Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge explores how universities can make a major contribution locally and globally, support a diverse and vibrant economy, and help tackle the country’s productivity challenge.

Education has long been a North East success story. But it’s not just part of our heritage, it’s a key sector for our future too: both in nurturing the highly-skilled workforce of tomorrow, and as a major employer, innovator, and exporter today.

Here at Durham, we’re not just England’s third oldest university; we’re making significant investments to ensure we remain a world-class university: investment that is absolutely necessary as we face increasing competition from universities in Asia, North America, Europe and elsewhere.

Universities already make a sizeable contribution to the economy: over £50 billion GVA in 2014/15, according to Universities UK. Our own figures suggest we were responsible for around £1.1 billion of that total.

At Durham, we employ 4,300 staff and have 18,400 students – considerable numbers in a City with a population of around 65,000.

But we believe there is also great potential for growth: the average student head count across Russell Group universities is 27,000; and the average staff roll is 7,700. So we’re in a period of carefully planned expansion: to recruit an extra 360 academic staff and grow our student numbers to 21,500 by 2027.

We believe we can achieve these targets because we continue to attract high calibre staff and students from around the world. We are also consistently ranked among the world’s top 100 universities (most recently 78th in the QS World University Rankings 2020).

But this isn’t just about us: the North East stands to benefit hugely from our success and from that of all the universities in the region: Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland.

It’s estimated that international students contribute around £700 million a year to the North East economy. As we and others look to attract more students from overseas (our target is 35% by 2027) this income will grow significantly.

Education and training is another valuable export industry. We continue to benefit from English being the international language of choice and the long-standing reputation of UK education. Many of our alumni hold senior roles in government and industry worldwide.

The value of education exports to the UK was almost £20 billion in 2016, and the value of transnational education within that, though still relatively small (£1.8 billion), was up 73% on 2010, showing the growing attractiveness of this option to overseas students.

We also need to tackle the big challenges facing our home economy – not least the productivity gap. Universities are well-placed on this front as we collaborate with industry to develop new technologies, research new ways of working and deliver high-level skills for the workforce of the future.

The Northern Accelerator programme, which brings together Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities, is helping researchers to spin out and commercialise ideas, leading to the formation of potentially high-growth, research-intensive businesses linked to the research expertise here in the North East.

The Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme, which involves Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Teesside universities, is helping SMEs access academics, PhD students and research facilities to address their research challenges, leading in turn to the development of new products and services.

And the Durham City Incubator, a partnership between ourselves, Durham County Council and New College Durham, is supporting and encouraging graduate and student enterprise: helping our graduates stay in the North East and creating new and better jobs.

We’re all aware of the challenges facing us, but working together as a region we can drive success. Universities aren’t businesses in a conventional sense. We don’t have shareholders, nor do we seek to maximise profits. But we do deliver jobs, value and innovation. We are major enterprises in the modern economy. We are anchors for the future of the North East.

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Newcastle pupils partner with Port of Blyth to put learning into action

Students and teachers at Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy have been using applied learning to strengthen the links between schools and employers.

Holly Knox, Assistant Principal of Hadrian School at Excelsior Academy, talks about the school’s recent visit to the Port of Blyth and how it has helped students to apply classroom learning to real life.

We took two groups of our year 7 and 8 pupils to The Port of Blyth as part of their current project about renewable energy. The pupils have been focusing on the themes of renewable energy and climate change, and this visit to the Port of Blyth helped them to see some real-life applications of what they’ve been learning as well as being an opportunity to find out about STEM careers in the energy sector, which is one of the main growth sectors in the region.

Although we’re based in Newcastle, just a few miles from the sea, some of our pupils had never been to the coast before and many of them didn’t know that renewable energy equipment like wind turbines are developed and tested here in the North East. We wanted our students to be able to see for themselves how the North East plays a key part in the renewable energy sector, to find out about the different people who work in the sector, and to think about their own futures and the types of careers they might be interested in.

On the day, we had a tour of the Port, met people who worked in different jobs within the organisation, and we were able to see the technology and machinery in action, including the equipment which is used to dig the trench for the cable that stretches along the seabed all the way from Blyth to Norway. We also completed a hands-on challenge where pupils built their own mini wind turbines and competed to see which group could generate the highest voltage.

They came away enthused and excited about what they’d found out, and absolutely buzzing about what they achieved in building the mini turbines. The visit really inspired them and some of the equipment they saw in action was beyond anything they’d imagined.

Everything we did on the day linked with what we’ve been teaching in the classroom and back at school, the students are continuing to talk about what they learnt on their visit and connecting what they’ve seen with what they’re learning. Every day they are asking questions linked to the visit and we’re reflecting together on what we saw and heard, and what we now know about renewable energy in the North East.

It really was quite empowering for both the pupils and the staff involved and we will be repeating this project with our next cohort of students and we hope to build on this connection we now have with the Port of Blyth.

Holly Knox, Assistant Principal of Hadrian School at Excelsior Academy.

Excelsior Academy is one of three North East schools taking part in a pilot of project based learning.

Project based learning is designed to make learning in the classroom relevant to the world of work, embed careers information into the curriculum and equip young people with skills for 21st century careers.

It is part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Education Challenge and delivered in partnership with Edge Future Learning. It draws on a model developed by Ford Next Generation Learning in United States who are sharing their experience and expertise.

Find out more about the Education Challenge programme.

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North Tyneside pupils learn what it takes to complete the Great North Run

Paul O’Neil, an Apparel Coach from Nike’s Royal Quays store in North Tyneside, worked with Churchill Community College in Wallsend to help pupils work on a project in which the science curriculum has been taught through the lens of what it takes for a person to complete the Great North Run. 

The project is part of the North East LEP’s Education Challenge programme, working with employers to apply learning to real world context to improve outcomes for students.

Year 7 pupils at Churchill Community College have been working on a project exploring what it takes for a person to complete the Great North Run. They’ve spoken to orthopaedic surgeons about the human body, they’ve met the millionth person to complete the run, and I visited the school to talk about being active and using the right running equipment to help improve performance and prevent injury.

At Nike, one of our founding principles is to help create the future of sport by supporting young people aged 4 to 14. We have a community ambassador at every store and are encouraged to get involved with the community, whether it’s working with schools or providing volunteers at the local Junior parkruns, which we do every Sunday.

This was a great opportunity to speak to the students about running and encourage them to find out more about health and keeping active. We know that children start to make choices about their life when they’re aged about 7, and if they’re active at that age, they’re far more likely to continue to be active throughout their life.

During science lessons, the pupils at Churchill Community College had been learning about nutrition, injury and the human body and I built on this by talking about how the correct equipment can help reduce the risk of injury as well as helping you to keep safe, for example by using reflective equipment at night.

We also discussed factors that help to improve performance for runners and the visit involved hands-on activities for the pupils to take part in. I talked about my role at Nike as well as some of the other careers that exist in the sector such as product design.

The pupils were so engaged and excited and I think they have got a lot out of this project. Some people learn by doing and this way of learning caters to different learning styles, allowing pupils to learn in a hands-on way and see how what they learn in school relates to the world of work and wider life.

I was invited back to the school to see a showcase of the pupils’ work, bringing together everything they’ve learnt, including their own trainer designs, and it was great to see everything they’ve learnt during the project come together.

Paul O’Neil, Apparel Coach, Nike Royal Quays.

Churchill Community College is one of three North East schools taking part in a pilot of project based learning.

Project based learning is designed to make learning in the classroom relevant to the world of work, embed careers information into the curriculum and equip young people with skills for 21st century careers.

It is part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Education Challenge and delivered in partnership with Edge Future Learning. It draws on a model developed by Ford Next Generation Learning in United States who are sharing their experience and expertise.

Find out more about the Education Challenge programme.

 

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In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, about new, improved changes to the apprenticeship service

Since it launched in 2016, more than 2.2 million people have signed up to use the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s apprenticeship service.

The award-winning online platform has helped over 17,000 levy-paying employers take control of their apprenticeships and make better decisions for their organisation.

The good is news all employers in England, whether they’re levy-paying or not, will soon have access to all the benefits of the apprenticeship service. The Education and Skills Funding Agency has decided to open it up so any employer, big or small, can choose how they want to manage their apprenticeships and make them work for their business.

Previously, non-levy paying businesses only had access to certain areas of the platform, for example, the find an apprenticeship service. Now they’ll be able to take full advantage of all the services on offer, including greater choice of quality training providers, more control over how they pay for that training, and how they access and recruit apprentices.

The transition of non-levy paying businesses onto the full apprenticeship service will take place over the course of this year with a selection of employers and partnered providers invited to test the service.

I hope all North East businesses take full advantage of this exciting change. Providing more apprenticeship opportunities will help improve skills across the North East, boosting the economy and creating more and better jobs.

To find out more visit www.gov.uk or sign up to receive apprenticeship email alerts.

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Sharing North East skills practice internationally

Visitors from across the UK and as far afield as Hong Kong have been in the North East to learn how the region is leading the way improving careers education for young people.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, explains how developing closer links between schools and employers is having a positive impact on outcomes for pupils.

This month the North East LEP skills team has hosted visitors from the UK and Hong Kong, with the aim of sharing what we’ve learnt about embedding engagement with employers into the classroom and improving careers guidance for young people.

A delegation of representatives from Hong Kong’s education sector joined education specialists from Rhondda Cynon Taf Education, Employment and Training team in Wales on a two-day visit to the North East. The aim of the visit was to share what we’ve learnt about working with schools, colleges and local employers to deliver outstanding careers education to each and every young person in our region.

We also hosted a visit from colleagues from across the country as part of our role as Cornerstone Hub partnering with the Careers & Enterprise Company. Our hubs not only support North East schools and colleges to achieve the benchmarks but we also have a role to play nationally, learning from and supporting Careers Hubs in other regions in implementing the benchmarks in their own regions.

The North East is leading the way in careers education and employer engagement. In 2015 we were the first region to pilot the Gatsby Career Benchmarks in schools and as a result we demonstrated the huge impact these benchmarks can have in schools and on outcomes for young people, really helping pupils to understand how what they learn in the classroom applies to their future careers.

The benchmarks have now become part of Government’s national careers strategy, meaning that schools and colleges elsewhere in the country are keen to learn from the North East LEP about how we have engaged schools and colleges with the benchmarks and how we continue to support their delivery.

We have also established a successful Enterprise Adviser programme, partnering North East schools with business leaders who volunteer their expertise to help shape careers education and strengthen the relationship between our education and business sectors.

Our visitors from Hong Kong and Wales visited Studio West school in Newcastle and Harton Academy in South Shields to meet staff and students and hear first-hand about the difference this employer engagement and the Gatsby Career Benchmarks have made to them. 

I’m extremely proud the North East is recognised nationally and internationally as an example of best practice in delivering careers guidance. It’s testament to the impact the Gatsby Career Benchmarks have that so many countries across the world want to match our success.

This success is down to the hard work by our schools and colleges but also the time and expertise that has been given by North East businesses, who have been instrumental in helping us to drive forward our skills, employability and inclusion programmes which are vital to improving life for people in the North East.

Find out more about the North East LEP’s work with schools, colleges and employers in the region.

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In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, about the launch of the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

What age were you when you started to think about what you might do as a career? 15? 18? Possibly even older?

Would it surprise you to know that children have their first career aspirations aged two to four years? By age five and six, children are already beginning to narrow their choices based on their gender, and by age ten many young people have already made career limiting decisions, which are fixed by age 14.

It’s for these reasons and more, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, working with EY Foundation, is launching the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot – a brand new initiative to build careers aspiration and inspiration from an early age.

We know, first hand, the transformational impact good careers education can have on young people. The North East LEP led the Good Career Guidance Benchmark Pilot in partnership with 16 secondary schools and colleges from across the region, which led to government launching new statutory guidance for schools on how to deliver careers education, with the Gatsby Career Benchmarks at its very heart.

Through the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot, we want to translate the Benchmarks so they meet the needs of primary schools, and then test them in action. Do they improve student outcomes, do they support primary schools in delivering high-quality careers education for all students, and can the approach be replicated in other areas of England?

We’ll be working with 70 primary schools from across the North East LEP region as part of the two academic-year pilot. Each school will have the support of a Facilitator, to help them implement and achieve the benchmarks, an Action Researcher to capture the impact, and be part of a community of Primary Careers Leaders, helping to deliver a shared vision for achieving the primary benchmarks.

Our partnership with EY Foundation and the team’s enthusiasm, expertise and financial support has been fundamental in making this happen. From the very early conversations, it was evident that EY Foundation understood what we were trying to do and why this pilot has so much potential to improve social mobility. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with the team and the Foundation’s Trustees, and we are so excited to kick start the activities within the 70 schools across the North East.

As an independent charity, EY Foundation helps young people overcome barriers to gaining fulfilling employment. One way they do this is by building close relationships with hundreds of employers, who provide young people with skills training and opportunities to find out more about the workplace.

The Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot forms part of North East Ambition, which is our commitment to improve social mobility by supporting each and every young person to make informed decisions about their future careers. We can do that by ensuring young people have meaningful encounters with a broad range of employers and understand the link between the subjects they study in school and the career opportunities available to them. It may sound simple, but it’s a huge culture change for many schools. We need to ensure careers education is viewed as important as curriculum-based learning, and that it’s embedded across the entire school.

Improving skills and social mobility is central to the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan to boost our economy and create more and better jobs for people living and working in the North East. We want young people to be aware of the opportunities available to them and aspire to achieve their full potential, whatever their circumstances.

Regular updates about the Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot will be made available on nelep.co.uk and northeastambition.co.uk. You can also contact us with any questions via [email protected].

By Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

The Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is supported by funding from the European Social Fund, EY Foundation and the Local Growth Fund.