/ News / Lancashire Skills Conference celebrates success of enterprise advisor network and the role of local business in supporting skills

Over 180 representatives drawn from Lancashire businesses, schools, colleges and stakeholders gathered at the Barton Grange Hotel in Preston on Friday (April 27th) to celebrate the success of the county’s thriving Enterprise Adviser Network.

The Enterprise Adviser Network is an innovative careers and enterprise programme which matches local schools with volunteers from local businesses to help boost employment prospects for young people.

Co-funded by Lancashire County Council and The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC), and delivered by Inspira on behalf of the Lancashire LEP’s Skills & Employment Hub, the Network now involves over 134 volunteer strategic leaders from business – Enterprise Advisers – who are working directly with 122 Lancashire schools and colleges.

The Enterprise Advisers support the schools and colleges to embed careers and enterprise into the educational journey, and to boost the number of employer encounters that young people experience.

This includes a wealth of insights, for example, regular school trips to workplaces, local firms hosting mock interviews and special careers advice days where employers take an active role in explaining and promoting different types of job roles and training options.

In addition to celebrating the success of the network to-date, delegates were given an update by the CEC’s Chief Executive Claudia Harris about their ambitions for the future, and the core aims of the government’s current Careers Strategy.

They were also given examples of some of the good practice that is evolving in the network, and case studies of other successful projects happening around the UK.

However, another major element of the event was the launch of the Lancashire Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) Toolkit.

The LMI Toolkit, which was commissioned by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), includes a new in-depth study of Lancashire’s recent employment performance together with projected demands for different jobs and skills across the county in the future.

It also contains a series of in-depth area profiles which highlight specific local data for all of Lancashire’s major conurbations and regions.

The audience heard how the new research revealed that between 2014 – 2017 the number of people employed had risen across every part of Lancashire, and that the unemployment rate in the county was below both the regional and national average.

Delegates were also told that Lancashire’s employment rate has risen significantly faster than the rest of the UK (excluding London) since 2014, and that over the last decade the county had outperformed the rest of the North West in terms of overall job growth.

Further, figures indicated that employment had consistently grown in six out of the LEP’s seven priority economic sectors since 2015, and that the county enjoyed a higher than average rate of employment among young people. The data also suggested that more highly skilled jobs were on the increase, and that significant employment growth was expected in the county over the next ten years.

However, despite the overwhelmingly positive forecasts for employment, the research also identified a number of challenges linked to skills, training, education and demographics which lay ahead for Lancashire and could impact on fulfilling its full economic potential.

The findings reinforce the significant contribution the Enterprise Adviser Network can make to both the prospects for young people and the local economy.

LEP board director Graham Cowley, who officially opened the conference, said: “The LEP is a private sector-led organisation which works in partnership with the public sector to drive economic growth in the county. This includes supporting skills and careers initiatives through the Lancashire Skills & Employment Hub, which we fund.

“The Enterprise Adviser Network gets businesses and schools working together to prepare students for the world of work and it is clear from the conference that everyone involved derives great benefit from the programme. Inspirational inputs from our businesses are also boosting the aspirations of Lancashire’s young people and enabling pupils to make informed choices about their future. Sharing experiences at the conference is key to ensuring future success.”

“Furthermore, the launch of the LEP’s labour market intelligence toolkit will help all partners identify the best future work opportunities for Lancashire students, directing them towards successful careers while also underpinning growth in the Lancashire economy.”

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company said:“It was fantastic to be part of the Lancashire Skills Conference and to celebrate the strength and success of the Enterprise Adviser Network which is now operating in nearly all schools and colleges in the region.

“The network is made up of inspiring volunteers and individuals that work tirelessly to help connect young people with work experiences. The world of work is rapidly changing, meaning it has never been more important for schools and businesses to work together to help prepare young people for the world of work. We are working so that by 2020 every young people should have at least one workplace encounter from school years 7-13 and we are delighted to be collaborating with our partners the LEP and local authority in Lancashire and Inspira to help make this happen.”

Mark Bowman, Chief Executive from Inspira, said: “The event was a real celebration of the success of the Enterprise Advisor Network in Lancashire. The enthusiasm of both employers and educators to create a lasting partnership is great to see. Inspira are delighted to work alongside Lancashire LEP and Careers and Enterprise Company to help grow the partnership.”

The new Lancashire Labour Market Intelligence Toolkit – including area profiles for Preston, Chorley and South Ribble; Lancaster and Morecambe; West Lancashire; Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre; Burnley and Pendle; Blackburn, Hynburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley – has now been made available online. Materials can be downloaded here.

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