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East Midlands Chamber News

Improving young people’s access to employment opportunities

The need to make sure young people get access to a wide range of employment opportunities was a key message to come out of the Chamber’s annual Employability and Skills Summit yesterday.


Only by being able to access work-related experiences while still in education can they hope to develop the skills employers need, thereby easing their transition from academia to the workplace and being better able to make informed career choices.


But the problem of education-leavers not being equipped for the workplace is one that employers have been flagging for a number of years.


Latest data collected as part of the Chamber’s second Quarterly Economic Survey of the year shows that around two-thirds of employers looking to recruit were struggling to find suitably qualified or experienced applicants.


Over 150 delegates attended yesterday’s summit, hosted by Chamber Strategic Partner Loughborough University.


They heard from a range of speakers from the Department for Education, Vodafone, the Institute of Apprenticeships, Careers and Enterprise Company and the East Midland Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, covering topics such as education and employer engagement, educational reform of apprenticeships, improving productivity through technology, the delivery of the new T-level qualifications and more.


Focusing on the perennial problem of finding suitable recruits, the summit looked for ways to challenge the status quo in education to ensure young people entering the workplace were appropriately skilled. This included looking at jobs today that didn’t exist five years ago and those that might exist in the future, particularly in the digital sector.


Throughout the summit, there were calls for business to support apprenticeships, schools engagement through the Careers and Enterprise Company and the forthcoming T-levels. However, caution was the order of the day to ensure that these activities are not developed in isolation, that there is consistency and that we don’t reinvent the wheel.


“The general consensus was that employers and education providers are working towards the same goal, but they tend to talk a different language,” said Ian Bates, the Chamber’s Sector Forums Manager.


He added: “This is something that needs to be addressed when developing workforce strategies to bridge the gap between education and employment. Both sides face challenges but creating better understanding of those challenges will create better and sustainable working relationships.”


Keynote speakers at the summit included Jonathan Mitchell - Deputy Director, Standards Development, Institute for Apprenticeships, Sue Lovelock - Deputy Director, Technical Education Implementation for T-levels, Mike Grogan - Head of East and East Midlands Region, Vodafone, David Hughes - Chair of East Midlands Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and Clare Hutchinson - Area Manager North, Careers and Enterprise Company.


The summit also included a series of workshops, panel discussions and exhibitions, all with an emphasis on creating action plans and lobbying priorities to find a solution to the perennial issue highlighted by business and education, in relation to access and delivery of a diverse, productive and skilled workforce.


Workshops included: Access Generation - becoming the employer of choice for future generations, Inspiring Governance - benefits to your organisation of being involved in school governance and the support available, Leicester Employment Hub - support for recruitment and training and supporting the disadvantaged into employment, and Recart – why contingency recruitment is dying.


To read some of the positive feedback from yesterday’s event see #EMCSkills2018 on Twitter.