A new organisation has been set up to ensure young people in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have theÂ education,Â skills andÂ attitudeÂ that local employers need to develop and grow their businesses.
The Education Trust will work to identify existing and future skills gaps, map clear pathways to workÂ and develop a continuous and comprehensiveÂ careers and skills offer from primary age through to workÂ – something that has not been done before.
The trust is a joint initiative between Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Keele University, businesses via the Local Enterprise Partnership, local education and training providers and the voluntary sector. Its developing work programme forms part of the City Deal proposals. It has been developed in response to a recognised gap in skills, behaviours, attitudes (and sometimes qualifications) which has led to someÂ employers recruiting staff from further afield and overseas. For some businesses a lack of skills prevents the companyâ€™s growth, which in turn affects the local economy.
The Education TrustÂ will work with schools, FE colleges, universities, other training and apprenticeship providersÂ as well as employersÂ to develop a continuous career and work offer for young people from primary school right through to when they start their first job.
It is developing a Skills Plan to identify new industries moving into the region as well as those that are already expanding. Â At the same time itÂ will undertake four locality projects, which will identify industry hubs and clusters of businesses in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle under Lyme, Cannock and Tamworth.Â The trust will then work with these businesses to identify existing skills gaps and where gaps are likely to arise in the future.
It will then work with schools, colleges, otherÂ training providers, businesses and the regionâ€™s two universities to map the routes to qualifications and on to work. This will provide education providers and young people with clearly defined pathways that lead into a specific career or a range of career prospects. Education providers will also be able to use this information to develop new services and events, modernise work experience and offer new ways to expose young people to the world of work that will help them to develop generic business skills needed for employment â€“ all based on hard data about future jobs opportunities.
Employers will benefit from having access to a pool of talented youngsters, who are both â€˜job readyâ€™ and appropriately qualified for careers in their local area, helping to stop the migration of skills outside of the county.
The trust will also strengthen links between businesses and education increasing the opportunity for young people to consistently engage with local employers. It aims to spark excitement about the real career opportunities available locally and encourage youngsters to think about the skills theyâ€™ll need to do these jobs from a young age.
Speaking about the launch, Ken Stepney, chair of the Education Trust andÂ ambassador for JCB said: â€œWe know that education providers at all levels work hard to prepare young people for life beyond education, but currently plan their courses on an annual basis to meet immediate needs and funding criteria. At the same time, employers know what skills gaps they have now, but canâ€™t always identify where gaps will arise in the future because of changes in educational funding and policy.
â€œThe Education Trust is undertaking ground breaking work to bring business, education providers and councils together to ensureÂ that both the existing andÂ future workforce has theÂ education andÂ skills needed to supply future business needs. Comprehensively, mapping pathways to work from primary right through to higher education courses or vocational training is something that has never been done before, and will allow education providers to respond to the real skills gaps of local businesses.â€
Councillor Ben Adams, cabinet member for learning and skills on Staffordshire County Council said: â€œEconomic growth requires a workforce equipped with the right skills, aspirations and qualifications to drive business forward, not least in cutting edge industries. The Education Trust will match training provision with local business needs ensuring that there is a pool of talented people who are correctly skilled and ready to work right here in Staffordshire.â€
Councillor Mohammed Pervez, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: â€œOur top priority is economic growth and jobs creation. Â We are making this city a place where business can thrive, creating more opportunities and wider prosperity for our residents.
â€œOur joint City Deal with the county council is securing greater powers and funding from Government to generate and accelerate this growth. Together we aim is to create thousands of new jobs over the next 10 years and this Education Trust will ensure local people can seize these job opportunities and take full advantage of the transformation in Stoke-on-Trent.â€
For further information about the Education Trust visit www.stokestaffslep.org.uk.