New scheme to tackle skill levels among city region school leavers

Along with transport connectivity, skills frequently tops the list of issues adversely impacting upon Yorkshire businesses.

Roger Marsh.

To address the balance, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is urging bosses in the area to ensure young people are leaving school with the right skills by joining its Enterprise Adviser Network.

So far more than 100 regional business leaders have become advisers on the scheme, providing strategic employer engagement advice to one third of all schools in the city region and supporting some 3,500 pupils to gain workplace skills and experience.

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The free service sees senior leaders in business working with schools to support the creation and implementation of careers and enterprise action plans giving employers direct involvement in shaping the skills of school leavers.

The call for more businesses to get involved follows the publication of a new report which forecasts a growing demand for skilled workers in the region, particularly in science, research, engineering and technology roles.

Digital industries alone now account for 23,000 jobs and generate £671m for the city-region’s economy.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the LEP said: “It is essential that our school leavers have the right mix of skills needed by employers to help ensure that the Leeds City Region remains competitive with the rest of the United Kingdom.

“Our Enterprise Adviser Network aims to create and strengthen links between business and education in the local area, and equip young people with the core skills needed to join the workforce. We had great results from the pilot scheme but we are aiming to do even better by reaching every school in the region by 2018 and involving more than 160 businesses - representing each sector of our economy from finance to manufacturing.

“For our advisers, as little as a few hours of their time a year spent going into schools and giving inspiring talks at assembly, mentoring young people or developing in-depth skills training plans, can make a huge difference to the employment prospects of young people in the City Region.”

Karen Higson from South Craven School said: “We have been working with Enterprise Adviser Glynn Robinson for the last nine months to provide support and opportunities for our Key Stage 5 pupils.

“Glynn has helped us to create and deliver a number of exciting employer engagement opportunities, including an app-building competition and a ‘Dragon’s Den’-style interview panel.

“The aim of this activity has been to provide our students with the necessary understanding of the type of careers they can have and to help them develop important digital skills.”

As part of the report the LEP also conducted research into job adverts in the region and identified the skills employers find most desirable in candidates.

Communication skills were found to be one of the most sought-after attributes, appearing in a third of job postings. Other top skill types in demand include organisational skills, planning, writing and problem solving.

The Enterprise Adviser programme aims to develop these desirable skills by providing young people with four or more interactions with the world of work each year, as well as raising awareness of the types of careers available in the region.