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Expanding the reach of the North East Skills Strategy

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is expanding its Skills team to increase the reach of its work with schools, colleges and education providers across the North East. Michelle Rainbow, the North East LEP’s Skills Director, explains what’s in store.

2018 was an incredibly busy year for our Skills team here at the North East LEP. We spent the year working on both a regional and a national basis, building the foundations of our Skills strategy and working towards the interim aims laid out in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).

One of these aims was to put in place our Fuller Working Lives programme, working with employers to boost their numbers of older workers and to make sure that those in our workforce who are older are supported, whether they want to pursue a new direction or continue in their career.

We aimed to roll out the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, which form a clearly defined framework for good careers guidance, to every secondary school in the North East and we wanted to partner every secondary school with an Enterprise Adviser – a business leader who volunteers their expertise to support schools and colleges in shaping the delivery of careers education.

Another major aim was to begin the ground-breaking Education Challenge programme, including working with three North East schools to pilot a new, project-based model of learning which places employer engagement at the heart of the curriculum.

In the area of technical education, we aimed to work with providers to develop world class technical education and apprenticeships to match the requirements of our growing and emerging sectors.

I’m proud to say that we achieved all of these aims and more. And to help us work with even more schools, colleges and education providers in 2019, we have recently welcomed seven new people to the North East LEP Skills team. It’s my hope that by mid-2019 we will have recruited another 10 members of the team to help deliver our ambitious plans for this year.

It’s a period of rapid expansion, which will enable us to have a wide scale regional impact. By the end of 2019 we will be working with every secondary school in the North East and we will be increasing the scope of our work with primary schools, helping to raise children’s aspirations from a young age.

We’re building on our engagement with the Further Education, Higher Education and Technical Education sectors as well, supporting organisations in responding to changes in policy and working closely with partners like the CBI and North East Chamber of Commerce.

Over the past three years we’ve put foundations in place that form the basis of a robust Skills strategy for the North East. We’ve carried out pilot projects and learnt from all the work that has been carried out so far.

Now we’re building on what we’ve learnt and we are actively pursuing opportunities to expand our reach across all our programmes so that we can support even more schools, colleges, employers and educational organisations.

Our long term vision for the North East is that it is a place where individuals, regardless of age or employment status, have a good understanding of the employment opportunities available in the North East and the pathways to access them. We want employers to have strong links with education and training providers and we aim to continue working with partners to highlight the importance of skills in improving productivity and living standards for everyone in the North East.

Find out more about the North East LEP Skills strategy.