A project to bring employers and schools in Liverpool city region closer together has been launched by Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool Chamber has launched a new project which looks to help businesses in Liverpool city region forge closer links with schools and their students.
School Business Network aims to enhance the skills and employability of students in the city region by bringing educators and employers closer together in a central hub. It has been developed in partnership with Liverpool City Council
It follows research carried out by the chamber which revealed that businesses experience obstacles to meaningfully engage with schools in a sustainable and meaningful way despite a strong desire to increase access to workplace experience.
The network is designed to underpin ‘Priority 5’ of the city’s Education Improvement Plan, which is geared towards ensuring employability and employer engagement are embedded within the learning experiences of all students.
Mentoring, careers advice and in-work training will now be among the many activities promoted and undertaken within the new network, which was launched at an event attended by more than 80 business owners, headteachers and students.
Speakers at the event included students from Cardinal Heenan High School, who each issued a plea to businesses and educators to prioritise the availability of work experience and employer interaction to maximise their chances of progressing into a future career.
Additional speakers included Jen Sing, headteacher at Academy of St Nicholas, Grace Ward from Young Person’s Advisory Service, Gill Walsh from Liverpool City Region Careers Hub, and Dr Katie Spall of Liverpool City Council.
The launch event was hosted by Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber, and held in The Old Hall events space at Bruntwood Works’ Cotton Exchange. He said: “Businesses regularly talk to us about the challenges they face in recruiting students with the right levels of skills and experience.
“There is a clear willingness and desire to work collaboratively with education providers to identify those skills gaps and help students to find clear pathways into work. Our research showed that finding the right point of contact was a common hurdle both for employers and educators.
“The School Business Network aims to surmount that by providing a mutual forum where they can each share their own perspectives and create opportunities to improve the career prospects of local students.
“We have a wide range of organisations who are already actively involved and we would invite other employers and education providers to get in touch with us and explore the benefits of joining the School Business Network.”
Dr Katie Spall, senior project lead, Liverpool City Council, said the “fantastic” turnout at the first School Business Network event demonstrated the desire by both schools and employers to collaborate around the skills gap agenda.
She added: “It is important that we now build on this momentum. The Pathways to Employment project that Liverpool City Council is running will help employers gain access to schools.
“It will provide a structure to work with young people to provide experience of the workplace, develop the right employability skills and ultimately help students to take their next steps into employment or training.”
For further information about the Liverpool Chamber School Business Network, contact email@example.com