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Education keeps city in vanguard
12:00am Tuesday 19th February 2013 in The York Report
York’s excellent schooling is what marks it out from other northern cities and enables it to rank consistently high in indices of competitiveness, compared to other UK cities.
More than 40 per cent of the working age population in York is qualified to NVQ level 4, degree level, or above.
Only 6.8 per cent of the working age population has no qualifications, the third lowest in think-tank Centre for Cities rankings of 64 UK cities, making York the only city in the north to figure in the top ten.
North Yorkshire County Council was ranked 13th out of 150 authorities nationally for the number of pupils gaining five or more GCSE A*-C grades in 2012.
More than 65 per cent of pupils gained at least five A*-C grades including English and maths, compared with a 59.4 per cent average nationally, with 76 per cent achieving a C-grade or better in maths.
For post-16 students, North Yorkshire was 15th nationally for points per A-Level entry and 17th in the country for the percentage of students gaining three A*-A grades at A-Level. Almost 88 per cent of North Yorkshire pupils gained at least three A-Levels or their equivalent.
York is home to 24,000 students, who attend its two universities and further education colleges.
While the universities specialise in sciences, the arts and business and management, other vital trades are taught at York College and Askham Bryan landbased college.
Askham Bryan College, which also has a site at Newton Rigg near Penrith, which it took over from the University of Cumbria, is planning to invest £6 million in its York campus, which runs courses in agriculture, animal management, equine management, engineering, motor sport, horticulture, food technology, arboriculture, floristry, environmental management, highways maintenance, plant maintenance and general education.
It plans to create a new wildlife and conservation centre and a new canine centre with a veterinary nursing suite, hydrotherapy, dog grooming and kennels along with a cattery.
Student numbers at the college trebled from 800 full-time students in 2007 to 2,500, plus about 3,000 part-time students in 2012.
It has practical facilities for students to use their skills in the real world, including the Alan Ayckbourn Theatre, Ashfields restaurant, hair and beauty salon and spa and nail bar, which are open to the public and staffed by students.
York is to become one of eight apprenticeship hubs in the region after Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership was awarded £4.6 million from the Government to invest in apprenticeships.
Harrogate, Selby and Craven councils will also join forces to form a North Yorkshire hub.
By 2015, the city region as a whole intends to generate 2,500 additional apprenticeship places for 16- to 24-year-olds with small and medium-sized businesses.
York Council, working with the National Apprenticeship Service and York Training Providers Group, has been allocated £138,000 over three years and will appoint a business development officer to meet firms interested in taking on apprentices and improve apprenticeship information for smalland medium-sized businesses and young people aged 16 to 24.
As well as developing a highly skilled workforce, York’s educational establishments are focused on promoting and nurturing entrepreneurial skills and a spirit of enterprise.
In the past, the city has been behind the national and regional average for new business start-ups, and while the rate of growth is now outpacing other local areas, progressing those businesses into bigger VAT-registered businesses remains a challenge for York.
The city’s Economic Strategy outlines ambitions to achieve an increase in business start-ups of 75 per cent per year by 2015 as part of its strategy to create 1,000 new jobs.
York St John Business School’s Acorns programme uses the resources of the city’s entrepreneurial talent to support the next generation of business-owners through training courses, as well as its enterprise clubs, which brings like-minded entrepreneurs together through networking.
In 2010, the city began to promote its entrepreneurial culture when it held the first York Business Week, arranged by public and private sector partners to coincide with Global Enterprise Week.
York Business Week, now in its fourth year, has regularly attracted 7,000 business people to more than 40 events taking place in the city, and held events to encourage students into enterprise, through special school assemblies and enterprise competitions.
York Business Week also recognises the city’s apprenticeships with a grand apprenticeship graduation ceremony held at York Minster during the week.
York’s schools work with some of the city’s largest businesses, as well as small to medium-sized enterprises, through enterprise education programmes such as Young Enterprise and NYBEP (North Yorkshire Business and Education Partnership).
Even in medieval times, York was a centre for business, and to this day, it still has seven of its ancient medieval guilds remaining.
Less hands-on in the day-to-day lobbying for their individual sectors, the guilds today are exclusive clubs of successful and wealthy business people which raise money for charity and help to nurture talent in their fields.
The guilds, which include Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York, the entrepreneurs guild, and The Company of Merchant Taylors, the arts and crafts guild, play a role in helping young people advance in their careers, providing enterprise education, support for apprenticeships and bursaries for further education.