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Links between Employers and Schools and FE Colleges

Volume 582: debated on Monday 16 June 2014

6. What steps his Department is taking to strengthen relationships between local employers, schools and further education colleges. (904203)

8. What steps his Department is taking to strengthen relationships between local employers, schools and further education colleges. (904205)

Order. Before the Minister gets ahead of himself, with characteristic enthusiasm and gusto, I think he will want to confirm to the House his intended grouping of Questions 6 and 8, which I think his briefing folder will tell him.

I would be absolutely delighted to do so.

As I was saying, more and more employers are engaging with schools and colleges to inspire young people. As discussed earlier, we have strengthened statutory guidance for schools so that those relationships can help to inspire students into their careers.

I thank the Minister for his answer, but a recent report from the university of Bath showed that 60% of school and college governors said that employers were not proactive enough about becoming school governors and thereby taking a formal role in education. Given the importance of employers in improving the employability of our young people, what are the Government going to do about that?

Absolutely—strengthening the role of employers in governance and on careers advice, and inspiring pupils are vital, and a whole programme of work is under way to encourage more employers. One thing we can do is make it easier and bring about a brokerage so that employers who want to get involved can do so without too much bureaucracy and with the support of their local schools.

Churchill community college has been judged outstanding by Ofsted, and the inspector said that the school prepares young people well for their future. Will the Minister say how his Department will get employers directly involved in curriculum support so that young people at Churchill—and elsewhere—can capitalise on their excellent education and be successful in the world of work?

Yes, absolutely. One example is the introduction of tech levels for those between 16 and 19 who want to go into vocational education, which will get them into a job. These qualifications have to be signed off as valuable by an employer before we will accept them as tech levels, thus demonstrating the line of sight from work that exists in all educational vocational education.

As the Minister said, it is vital for schools to forge strong links with businesses to ensure that school leavers are not just numerate and literate, but employable. Does he agree that organisations such as the Education Business Partnership can often play a significant role in building these links?

Yes, I do. There is a huge array of organisations. Only this morning, I was launching Careers Lab with Steve Holliday, who runs National Grid. That is another organisation, like the one my hon. Friend mentioned, that can help to broker links between employers and education, which are so important after the systems were separated for far too long.

Following on from that, one way to enthuse young people in engineering is to give them first-hand experience and use role models. What is the Minister doing specifically to encourage engineering companies to go into schools and enthuse young people?

I am delighted to say that there are over 20,000 ambassadors from engineering who go into schools under the STEMNET—the science, technology, engineering and mathematics network—programme. It is just one example of the organisations that can help to bring employment and education together.