Warwickshire County Council was recently joined by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership as well as members of local businesses and senior representatives from local schools and colleges at a Skills for Employment Conference to discuss how the skills shortage in the workplace can be tackled.
The county council’s £2.4 million Skills for Employment programme, now in its third year, brought together the business world with education and training to ensure that young people enter the workplace with the requisite skills.
The programme provides small grants to schools and colleges to help them to provide careers opportunities while larger major grants have been awarded to partnerships between schools and businesses where innovative schemes will give young people the chance to have valuable work experience.
An announcement was made that grants of up to £40,000 would be available later this year for partnerships between schools and businesses to tackle skills issues in specific sectors. Expressions of interest can be made via the Skills for Employment webpage from 5 April at: Skills for Employment . Smaller grants of up to £3,000, available to schools, will also be made available again in June.
Delegates at the conference heard how 11,000 careers and employability opportunities were provided to the county’s young people in 2015 and 2016 after the launch of the programme ranging from additional careers guidance through to work experience. Over 300 businesses were engaged in that period. It is estimated the grants awarded in October 2016 are funding a further 8,000 opportunities in the current academic year.
The county council has a statutory duty to track the destination of 16 and 17 year olds when they leave school.
In 2015/2016, the number of 16-17 year olds whose education or employment status were not known to the authorities was 9.5%. While official statistics will not be published by the DfE until next month, the council estimates this has fallen for the academic year of 2016/17 to 4% meaning that the whereabouts of another 550 16-17 year olds are known to the county. Linked to this reduction is the proportion of young people staying in education at age 16. Last autumn this figure rose from 91.3% to 92.8%.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for economic development, said:
“Our challenge is knowing what the jobs of tomorrow will entail in such a fast moving market. This conference is about aligning businesses and educators within this market so our young people get the education and competencies that will allow them to thrive.”
Cllr Philip Johnson, chair of Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said:
“Skills for Employment is playing a key role in creating opportunities for young people in Warwickshire to make themselves more work-ready. It is vital to both the businesses and the young people that links are made at an early age to skill young people up for the workplace.”
To see if your school, college or business can get involved in the Skills for Employment programme, call Glenn Robinson on 07825 317414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.