The link between learning and business as the key to bridging the skills gap was overwhelmingly endorsed by speakers and participants at the recent conference held on the South Bank on 21 April.
Welcomed by Lord Haskins, Humber LEP Chair, delegates heard about the wider work of the Humber LEP in terms of business support via the Growth Hub before focussing on the Humber skills agenda and the work already being done. With examples given including the huge opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) based industries throughout the region, it was reinforced that there is work to do to ensure residents of the Humber have the skills and qualifications needed to fill this gap.
Josephine Nowacki, Senior Her Majesty’s Inspector for the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber set out the context of Careers Guidance and the need for this to be a quality service provided impartially to all young people. She was quick to reiterate the importance of apprenticeships and how the benefits and opportunities should be highlighted to young people alongside the more traditional academic or study routes.
Of greatest impact were the presentations by young people themselves who had benefitted from business involvement during their learning. Alex Smith shared her own story about her apprenticeship and the support she received from Grimsby-based Care Plus Group who helped her to develop her employability skills. North Lindsey College student Rachel Allen spoke about the work experience she had benefitted from during secondary school and college.
Rachel said: “For me, work experience has made a huge impact on where my career is heading. Knowing I wanted to follow a health and social care route, my work experience during secondary school was in a childcare setting and whilst it was a great experience, I realised it wasn’t the route I wanted to take. My placement during college was at Amvale Medical and I quickly got stuck in to the work. In fact, my 100 hour placement came and went so quickly that I was employed by them alongside my college work.
“Having the opportunity to experience a role like the one at Amvale has helped me develop my skills and understanding so much that I now feel I’ve got a head start in my career which will either see me becoming a paramedic or a medic in the RAF.”
The conference also gave the opportunity to test out the Springboard Programme’s ‘Hire Me’ model, whereby 18-24 year olds who are being supported by a personal advisor to break down barriers to employment or learning, are able to support events and gain a small amount of work experience. In many cases, a lack of experience or self-confidence is a barrier to employment and by supporting an event through delivering front of house services and having the opportunity to network with delegates gives an opportunity to stretch their comfort zones. Callum, a Springboard client from Noth Lincolnshire is now working with the Humber Apprentice Support Service as a result of his involvement in the conference and is hoping to secure an electrical engineering apprenticeship.