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Bridging the gap between industry and education

As summer fades into a new academic year, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) continues its drive to bring industry and education closer, with the ultimate aim of improving skills in the North East workforce. Skills Director, Michelle Rainbow, gives a preview of what’s to come in the three main skills programmes, and how business can get involved.

North East Ambition: Working with schools, colleges and employers to deliver outstanding careers guidance from primary education to employment.

Since the pandemic, we want to harness the positives that have come from new ways of working and highlight the great work that is still being done by businesses to build relationships with schools and colleges.

We’ve produced a work experience framework which will make it easier for businesses to deliver work placements, virtually or in-person, giving young people valuable experience and creating links with the next generation of employees.

The process of embedding age-appropriate careers guidance in primary schools is making huge progress and evidence around the importance of introducing younger children to the opportunities open to them is building.

And business leaders continue to support schools and colleges as Enterprise Advisers, lending their expertise to bridge the gap between education and industry. We’re aiming to partner more Enterprise Advisers with SEND schools in the region, and help businesses develop high quality work experience for pupils with special educational needs, so that no child is left behind when it comes to realising their ambitions.

Education Challenge: Working with partners to support school leaders, teachers and governors to reduce the gap between our best and lowest performing schools.

Businesses are central to this work, as we know that placing employer engagement at the heart of the curriculum has huge benefits for children and young people. That’s why we’re continuing to support the expansion of the Ford Next Generation Learning pilot, which creates employer-led learning partnerships with schools.

We’ve also developed a new, data-driven approach to personalising careers guidance, using live data from students to help schools and employers make sure that the experiences they’re providing are having results and match the interests of young people. So if a school has a large number of pupils who want to go into engineering, we can help the staff work with local employers that fit their needs.

We’re also working to raise awareness around the opportunity to be a school governor. Strong and diverse governance is essential in achieving high quality education, and we want businesses – especially SMEs – to understand more about how they can get involved in governance.

Post-16 skills: Placing employers at the heart of meeting skills needs in post-16 education.

In January the government published its Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth white paper which sets out reforms to post-16 technical education to help people to gain skills they need in the workplace. One of the ways we’re supporting this agenda is through a series of industry insight sessions, which help curriculum staff and careers leaders understand the changes and growth affecting industries from electrification and the wider green economy agenda through to the life sciences and digitalisation of construction.

We’re also involved in supporting the broader technical education agenda through working to promote apprenticeships, supporting the roll out of the new T-level qualifications which involves cross sector working with employers and universities, together with ensuring progression pathways into higher technical skills through our partnership with the region’s Institute of Technology.

The North East is also home to the country’s only College Careers Hub, bringing colleges together to prepare students for the world of work. Ensuring a pipeline of skilled talent is available to business is crucial if we’re to achieve our aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs for the North East by 2024.

By working with schools and colleges in the North East, your business can create strong links with the next generation of employees. Find out more at www.NorthEastAmbition.co.uk.