Skills Minister’s praise for young entrepreneurs

A YORKSHIRE-based scheme which is helping young people to establish their own businesses has been praised by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.

Mr Hancock visited Leeds City College’s Park Lane campus, where he met students who are taking part in the net315 project, which provides mentoring for young people who want to become entrepreneurs.

The minister also toured the East Riding College’s campus in Beverley and the Humberside Engineering Training Association in Hull, which aims to nurture the engineers of the future who will work on renewable projects.

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Earlier this week, Mr Hancock launched a new Government Traineeship programme which aims to ensure that young people aged 16 to 24 have the support they need to enter the world of work.

The Government has sent out a discussion paper, which sets out its plans for traineeships.

The proposals include a commitment to provide focused work preparation training, high quality work experience and initiatives to ensure young people have higher standards of English and maths.

Research by the CBI found that almost two thirds of employers were unhappy with the ‘self-management’ skills of school leavers, and many were unimpressed with their grasp of English and maths.

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In recent years, further education colleges and training providers have joined forces to increase the number of successful, sustainable and growing enterprises in Yorkshire. The European Regional Development Fund gave £5.6m to the programme, with colleges and training providers across the region funding the rest.

Organisers hope to have helped to create 315 new enterprises by the time the funding ends this year, hence the name of the scheme: net315. Leeds City College is the lead organisation behind net315. Ten businesses are based in the college’s inc.enterprise centre.

Speaking after touring Leeds City College, Mr Hancock said yesterday: “Traineeships are a key new proposal to ensure everybody has what it takes to get a job and hold down a job, so everybody can compete for the jobs that are available.

“Here in Leeds City College there’s already brilliant work being done to make sure that when students learn their skills, they also learn how to put them into practice in the workplace.

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“It’s vital for colleges to link with employers and find out what employers need, and the skills they can provide – that’s a big focus of the changes we are making in skills policy....More broadly, it’s about making sure that education is about educating people to succeed in the in Leeds City College you can see it in action.

“In the skills area we are determined to focus the whole policy agenda towards ensuring we provide the skills employers need.”

He said the Humberside Engineering Training Association could play a role in ensuring there were enough engineers to meet the needs of the offshore renewable sector.

When asked if he saw signs of a north-south divide, Mr Hancock said: “No – I see Leeds and Hull and the rest of Yorkshire powering ahead in terms of making sure that, when people leave college, they not only have the skills in their subject, but also the ability to turn that into real business action.

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“It’s been inspiring to meet young entrepreneurs at Leeds City College who have set up creative and innovative businesses and clearly have a passion for what they do.”

Peter Roberts, the principal, of Leeds City College, said: “He (Mr Hancock) seemed to particularly enjoy speaking with the budding entrepreneurs and new businesses fostered by the college’s business and enterprise incubation team. This area of the college’s work is helping to develop a new generation of business talent which will contribute to the future of the employment and regeneration of the region.”

Mr Hancock attracted some embarrassing publicity earlier in the week when he was late for a TV slot, at a time when he was telling young people about the importance of being punctual. Mr Hancock missed his slot on ITV1’s Daybreak show. He said yesterday: “I was one minute late for my 6.40am (slot) and as a result, I understandably wasn’t allowed on the set, and it just shows that if you don’t make it in time for work there are consequences.”