Friday, 29 June 2012

Skills Matter!

I attended a Business Summit on skills at Sheffield Town Hall this morning. The summit, 'Refocusing education to meet the needs of employers', provided an opportunity to listen to employers and hear about the innovative work Sheffield is doing to encourage growth and enterprise and prepare young people for the world of work. 
The audience consisted of employers, universities, colleges, schools and the local authority and focused on how we produce world class skills in our workforce and more importantly our young people. The skill set isn't simplistically about basic skills but creativity, innovation and enterprise, character, resilience and grit and higher level skills around critical thinking, problem solving and team-working.
We listened to inputs by:
  • Councillor Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, skills and development, who talked about the work the council is doing to promote growth and development across the region.
  • Nigel Brewster, managing director, Brewster McBride Recruitment Consultants and Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership skills lead talked from the unique and important perspective of a small employer recognising the hugely important contribution SMEs play across the Sheffield City Region.
  • Angela Armytage, headteacher at Yewlands Technology College, who talked about the work her school is doing on project-based learning with the Innovation Unit and Learning Futures. Angela reinforced the importance of real world industry-based learning and its' connection to improving outcomes and raising standards.
  • Nick Duggan, assistant director learning, skills and communities, who talked about the changing educational scene in Sheffield and the work the authority's 14-19 team are doing to create pathways to employment, develop apprenticeships and improve information, advice and guidance.
  • Pam Liversidge, Master Cutler, who talked about the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Project and the importance of 'Workwise' in developing a project-based industry-related curriculum aimed at developing an agreed skills framework linked to a quality-assured and accredited learning passport. Pam also talked about the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Ambassadors: small groups of young people from each of the project schools who will experience a customised and high-quality programme linking them to the world of work and employment.
  • Alison Bettac, director of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute Training Centre, who talked about the development of the University Technical College and the Advanced Manufacturing Institute Training Centre. Alison was at Firth Rixson where she was instrumental in developing cutting edge project work with schools. Alison talked about an employer-led strategic approach,  linking the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Project, the UTC and the AMITC, which is developing across the Sheffield City Region.
This was a hugely encouraging session illustrating what can be achieved through strong, dynamic, honest and engaged partnerships between education and industry. Partnerships where schools, colleges and business work together to co-create a relevant, engaging and work-related curriculum linked to the growth areas identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership. 

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