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Gaining skills we need for the future
11:55am Tuesday 1st October 2013 in Business news
Business editor Laura Knowlson reports on new ways of nurturing young talent
THE new academic year is now well and truly under way, with half-term already fast approaching – but as pupils get into their studies, what percentage of their new knowledge will actually follow them into the workplace in later life?
The content of the curriculum is often subject to debate, with many harbouring different opinions about the best way to teach today’s children the life, practical and academic skills to set them up for tomorrow’s challenges.
The fact is that the students at schools, colleges and universities are the entrepreneurs and workforce of the future.
Recognising this, many businesses and organisations are now working to capture and nurture future talent, making sure that when youngsters leave education they are equipped with the skills the businesses need to ensure a sustainable workforce.
Last week Nestle, in Haxby Road, took part in a food and grocery industry initiative called Feeding Britain’s Future – Skills for Work Month 2013 aimed at helping young people gain the skills they need to get into work.
Youngsters from York had CV and interview sessions with HR managers to help them develop their employability skills and improve their chances of getting a job.
As well as workshops, all participants had the chance to tour the KitKat factory and speak to apprentices previously in their position as well as to see how the business is run and the wide range of careers available.
Fiona Kendrick, chairman and CEO of Nestlé UK, said: “At Nestlé we are focused on developing our Academy, a dedicated programme offering flexible career options, world-class training and development and a broad range of opportunities within our business to develop new skills.
“We believe it is vital that the food and drink industry works together to engage with young people and demonstrate first-hand the diverse and exciting careers we offer.”
Hugh Bayley, MP for York Central, said: “Unemployment in York is lower than in many other parts of the region, but we should not be complacent. Young people who cannot find work risk a lifetime of poverty and social exclusion.
“I am pleased Nestlé are taking part in the initiative. It is a win, win situation because young people are helped to find employment and employers are able to recruit members of staff who have demonstrated their willingness to work.”
In the financial sector York accountants Garbutt & Elliott have teamed up with the University of York to provide three paid ten-week internships for talented higher education students.
The students are Xu Wang, who is studying for an MA in comparative and international social policy; Jingwen Feng, studying for an MSc in finance; and Auste Vysniauskaite, studying for a BSc in economics and finance. Xu and Jingwen have been reporting directly to Garbutt & Elliott’s senior partner David Dickson, who is also treasurer of the university, while Auste has been working with tax partner Nick Scull.
Sarah Littlewood, acting head of human resources at Garbutt & Elliott, which also has offices in Leeds, said: “This is the second year we have taken part in the University of York’s internship scheme.
“We worked with the university to design a specific project brief, the University then advertised the internship to their students and provided us with a shortlist of candidates.
“The candidates went through an interview selection process with us, resulting in the three appointments.
“We have worked closely with the university during the course of the placement to discuss their progress, as this is as much about their experience and learning with us as it is about us having the additional resource to complete the project.
Mr Dickson said: “All three students have been a tremendous help to us and in turn they have benefited from the experience. We are especially pleased to take part in such a rewarding scheme with a world-class university.”
Specifically, the three students have supported the firm’s aim of embracing new and different ideas. Xu and Jingwen have helped to establish and launch the firm’s new China Desk, which encourages Chinese investment in Yorkshire and the UK. They have developed a webpage, video and presentation, all of which are accessible to the Chinese market.
Meanwhile, Auste worked on a project to make personal tax information more accessible to clients.
Jennifer Mowat, who runs the university’s student internship bureau, said: “‘I’m delighted that Garbutt & Elliott has engaged with the university’s internship programme again this year and with particularly innovative project ideas.
“Interest in the firm’s three internships was high this year, highlighting the drive and motivation of our students to conduct quality work experience opportunities with businesses across York.
“It’s extremely motivating that local companies such as Garbutt & Elliott recognise the value of paid work experience.”
Later this month a host of business stretching from Ryedale to the east coast will be taking part in the fourth annual Scarborough Engineering Week.
The event was created by businesses in the sector who found they were struggling to find people with the right skills and attributes to fill the job vacancies they had.
In a bid to tackle the problem a core of Scarborough businesses collaborated to create Engineering Week in a bid to inspire youngsters to think about a career in engineering.
This year’s event, which runs from October 14 to 16, features a Royal guest of honour as Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, is set to be flown by helicopter to the Spa for the second day of the event.
Growing from 400 children in its first year, this year’s event is expected to see a footfall of 2,000 pupils visiting exhibition and demonstration stands from almost 30 businesses including, York Potash, Derwent Training, McCain, Unison, Plaxton and Atlas Ward.
Peter Wilkinson, chairman of Scarborough Ambassadors, which puts together the event, said: “If we had a dream of how this event would grow when we first started it, then that has now been blown out of the water.
“Our challenge was making sure that we stimulated young minds to become engineers, showcasing electrical systems, robotics and leading edge technologies.
“We have already had 50 apprentices employed as a direct result of Engineering Week, which after just three events is quite an achievement.”
York’s busy York Business Week programme also features a number of elements aimed at nurturing future talent.
Throughout the week, which runs from November 18 to 22, The North Yorkshire Business Education Partnership (NYBEP) is going into schools across York to deliver Entrepreneur Assemblies, which will see business owners give inspirational talks to pupils about their journeys in business.
Sue Gradwell, chief executive of NYBEP, said: “It’s great if we can involve schools as part of York Business Week and get them thinking about future workforces, particularly with an emphasis on getting youngsters thinking about setting up their own business, and the possibility they could work for themselves.
“The Entrepreneur Assemblies are a great example of businesses in York reaching out to students.
“Everyone knows York is great for business and enterprise, and that the business community is thriving, but businesses always need to bear in mind that unless they invest in their future work force that success could be put at risk.”
In recognition of young entrepreneurial flair The Press Business Awards this year features a new category – Fledgling Business of the Year.
The award, sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses in association with Learning City York, was open to 11 to 19-year-olds who have launched their own enterprise, excelled at a project or initiative, or made a difference in a part-time job or volunteering role.
The finalists are Sophie Kingsley of Label S Vintage, Jacob Dent of DJ Dent Disco Services and Dan Littlewood of JDL Fitness, with the winner being announced at the Press Business Awards, part of York Business Week, on November 21.
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