Marcus Mason is Employment and Skills Manager at the British Chambers of Commerce
At the British Chambers of Commerce we’ve been championing the importance of building stronger links between the world of education and the world of business, so that we have a pipeline of talent for British firms facing skills shortages and more young people in work.
We laid the foundation for this work through our 2014 Workforce Survey, which revealed the areas where businesses were most positive – growth and job creation – and where there is room for improvement – skills and young peoples’ readiness for work. This year we’re using those findings, to drive forward the practical solutions we’re championing to address workplace skills shortages and ensure young people are better prepared for work.
In the run up to this year’s general election, we’re continuing to campaign for schools to be measured on the employment prospects of their students, as well as academic achievement, so that schools have an incentive to focus on the soft and technical skills that employers really need. Later this year we’ll be launching a new initiative across 26 UK Chambers of Commerce which will offer schools direct links to local businesses so they have up-to-date business focused careers advice and work experience programmes, among much more.
We’ll be holding our first education and business summit bringing together business and education leaders to discuss new ways of working together. And towards the end of the 2015 we’ll publish the results of a survey which will look at ways for us to better to bridge the gap between the world of work and the world of education.
There is also lots of great work already happening around our Chamber network to address the issue of skills and youth unemployment. Last month Employment Minister, Esther McVey, visited Solihull Chamber member, Solihull College, as part of a campaign to challenge career gender stereotypes. Several Chambers across the country have been piloting ways to get more women into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. The Solihull roundtable with the College’s female students - some of whom are completing Motor Vehicle studies and science courses - and local business women was a great opportunity to discuss how we can get the word out to even more young women about the options available to them.
But what better way to inspire the next generation than to hear from young entrepreneurs themselves, who have gone from start-up to successful global business. At our Annual Conference on 10 February we have a panel of young entrepreneurs, talking about Britain’s business future. Speakers will include Kathryn Parsons, co- founder of Decoded (a code-based learning company that trains up individuals from novice to digital enlightenment in just a day), Jules Quinn, founder of The *TeaShed (a fresh design-led tea company now exporting to markets all over the world) as well as Fraser Doherty, founder of SuperJam (a fruit jam supplier to big name supermarkets, which he started at just 14 years old).
We’re confident that we can bridge the gap between the worlds of education and business – but we must get more businesses to make inspiring the next generation a priority and more schools and colleges to engage with their business community. Only then can then can we truly prosper as a nation.
Note: All views expressed in guest blogs are those of the authors, and not of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.