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05 September 2016

Head of Careers & Enterprise Company Claudia Harris heads up the region’s first Skills Seminar

With the support of the University of Bedfordshire, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are holding the region's first Skills Summit to bring together small businesses with educators from universities, colleges and schools from throughout the region. The event on the 14 October, 2016 aims to take down barriers and explore ways that the young people entering the local workplace can come equipped with the skills needed to flourish and for the local economy to prosper.

Regional chairman for FSB Graham Buck said: "Our members are telling us that they are not always able to find the skills they need from among our young people and we believe that this is a problem that the FSB needs to address in partnership with local educational establishments. We are hoping that this event will produce a template on how businesses and educators can work together with some positive steps on how young people can be prepared to work in small businesses."

Graham continued: "Small businesses usually need every employee needs to be economically active from day one so it is imperative that young people come to the workplace work ready. Small businesses can often be the best place for young people to learn as they usually have to know the whole business, making the job interesting and enjoyable and giving them the sort of flexibility that will stand them in good stead for the future."

Claudia Harris, CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said : "There is a growing consensus that more must be done to prepare young people for the fast changing world of work. We know that young people who have more meaningful encounters with an employer whilst at school are significantly less likely to become NEET and also earn, on average 18% more than their peers who did not have the same opportunity. And yet only 40% of schools are currently able to ensure even one meaningful encounter each year. That's why it's never been more important to find effective ways for schools, colleges and businesses to work together.

She continued: "I'm delighted to be supporting the first Skills Summit in Bedfordshire and the fantastic work of the Federation of Small Businesses with whom we are collaborating to "join the dots" between schools and businesses. Caron Kendall, the Development Manager for the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire FSB is an Enterprise Adviser for the Careers and Enterprise company, is herself an excellent example of this with her work with Harlington Upper School. It's only by bringing businesses and educators together like this that we can empower young people to take control of their future and fulfil their potential."

Paula Page, project manager said: "It is honour to be able to support local small businesses with their ambitions to enhance the skills base by hosting the regions first ever Skills Seminar here at our Putteridge Bury Campus." Paula heads up the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Collaborative Network of which The University of Bedfordshire is the lead institution for this HEFCE funded network.

As well as Claudia Harris, who was an advisor to Tony Blair, speakers include, Peter Lilley MP for Hitchin and Harpenden and Trade and Industry Secretary in the 1990's and Sam Baker, Head of Business from Mark Rutherford School in Bedford, winner of the national award for education and business partnership.

There will also be a number of workshops in which educators and businesses will jointly explore topics such as opportunities in small businesses, skills, apprenticeships and work experience as well a chance to network over lunch so businesses can get to know their local school, college or university for a conversation about how closer links can be made.

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