Education & Skills Project – Achievements to date
Addressing the Skills Gap
Our Education & Skills Group has brought school and college leaders together with employers to find solutions to the mismatch between what young people are learning at schools and what skills they’ll need when they enter the workplace. One way we’ve done this is by building a new web portal for employers to connect directly with schools, called Step Up (www.timetostepup.co.uk). The site is managed by Form the Future CIC, a new social enterprise connecting schools with local businesses to enhance careers education and who are delivering the skills programme for the City Deal.
Step Up is designed to help young people think more strategically about their futures and provide access to opportunities through which students can improve their employability and careers awareness. Ultimately, this offers students a wider scope of career paths to choose from including promoting STEM subjects. For schools, the website becomes a valuable tool for directly linking with many businesses without having to source from multiple platforms. We are also ensuring there are links with other organisations that work with businesses on behalf of schools, such as Business in the Community, Founders4Schools, and Speakers for Schools so that this becomes the central hub for business/school activity in our area.
All this mirrors the ethos of Cambridge Ahead: get business engaged in finding solutions. In this case it’s about giving their time to inform, influence and inspire students through careers events, mentoring and work placements. The scale of change in a place like Cambridge makes it impossible for schools to have the detailed knowledge of the emerging jobs and where the job opportunities will be in three, five, or ten years’ time. But employers do and students benefit hugely when they speak with them directly. Form the Future acts as a matchmaker between schools and business and Step Up will enable all businesses in the region to play their part.
Our local schools in Cambridgeshire receive historically low levels of funding because the model used for funding has not been updated in 30 years. In 2015-16 we lobbied government directly to propose a redressing of the balance in line with other regions across the country and to demonstrate the important economic role of the Cambridge Cluster. The Government announced an update on the proposed National Funding Formula in January 2017 by which Cambridgeshire schools should gain by around £6.3m. However there would be a number of winners and losers at individual school level if this is implemented so we continue to monitor the situation. We have been working alongside the County Council in providing data that will help them put a strong case together for presenting a needs-based formula as part of the current process that is relevant to a growing economy.
A focus on Westminster
We recognise that influence decision-making in Government is crucial so we have actively engaged with our MPs for the region following the General Election in May 2015. We have built key relationships with MPs Heidi Allen, Daniel Zeichner and Lucy Frazer QC, who sits on the Education Select Committee. We continue to engage with them on all aspects of education and skills.
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