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A workforce fit for the future

How can we make sure that people in the North East are equipped with the skills that businesses will need in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time? Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), talks about the work that is taking place to build a skilled, sustainable future for the North East.

Each year, the skills team here at the North East LEP works with businesses, schools, colleges and training providers to make sure that young people in our region are given the best possible start to their careers.

Everything we do is about building a stronger, brighter future for everyone in the North East, and by bringing business and education closer together, we can help make sure that the skills our young people gain match the needs of our business community.

As part of this vision, we’ve partnered with schools to embed the Good Careers Guidance benchmarks, which place employer engagement at the heart of careers education, and we’ve worked hard to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on businesses as they continue to provide apprenticeships, training opportunities, and work experience to young people.

We have recently reviewed our activity over the last year and I’m very pleased to say that, despite the challenges everyone has faced, and thanks to the commitment of our local businesses, schools and colleges, we are still making strides towards ensuring that each and every young person in the North East has the chance to learn about the full range of careers opportunities available to them.

The support of the business community is essential in achieving this, and by working together I’m confident we can ensure that the skills of tomorrow’s workforce matches the future needs of businesses.

Our work in schools is not just with older pupils; we’ve recently expanded the reach of the Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks to primary schools, working with a pilot group to adapt the framework to suit the needs of younger children, who can begin to form ideas about their future careers when they’re as young as five.

Again, the involvement of employers has been essential, and businesses including automotive manufacturer Unipres, and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, have worked with us to give primary pupils a taste of the world of work, helping to broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations.

The North East LEP also helps employers to upskill their existing staff, and supports older workers to take stock of their skills and experience, signposting to training and advice that can help people to have rewarding careers for longer. This is particularly important as we see increasing digitalisation across all sectors, so our Skills Advisory Panel has a strong focus on future skills requirements, to make sure that the North East has an inclusive, digitally-enabled economy.

As we build back stronger following the impact of the pandemic, we will continue to work together with businesses, schools and training providers to help companies to grow and help people of all ages take full advantage of the increasing opportunities in our region.

Find out more about the North East LEP’s skills programmes.