Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 14.47.20THE British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), has published findings from a major UK-wide survey of over 3,500 businesses and educators highlighting the significant benefits of partnerships between schools and businesses.

Educational establishments in the North East that partner with businesses said the important benefits of these partnerships include improved outcomes for their pupils and the professional development of teachers and lecturers.

The education leaders surveyed also stated that employer engagement has a clear benefit for their pupils, including: better job opportunities (86%); greater awareness of the soft skills that businesses value (71%); increased motivation in lessons (71%); and better careers information (57%).

Business leaders reported that the main reasons for partnering with a school were to identify future employees (42%), to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility (41%), and to increase awareness of different jobs and career paths (38%).

However, both business and education leaders reported a number of barriers preventing them from building lasting and effective partnerships. For businesses and educators respectively, this included staff time (55% / 71%), and administrative burdens (39% / 14%). Businesses also cited cost as a factor (40%) while some educators identified a lack of interest from business (57%).

Paul Carbert, NECC Policy Advisor, said: “Links between education and business are essential to ensure we are producing young people who are ready to fill roles within the North East labour market. We will not bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in workplaces while still at school.

“A great deal of progress has been made in recent years, but we must continue to work together if we are to make significant in-roads into addressing potential skills shortages in key sectors in our region.

“We’re seeing fantastic work being carried out by our members. As lead sponsor of Castle View Enterprise Academy in Sunderland, Northumbrian Water has seen attendance levels increase significantly over the last four years, and Gateshead College was recently praised in the Ofsted Annual Report 2014/15 for its outstanding teaching and learning, and helping students to prepare for the world of work.

“Successive governments have focused too narrowly on academic outcomes alone. We must overcome perceived hurdles to encourage more schools and firms to bridge the gap. We are proud to bring together leaders from the world of education and business within our popular Linking Business With Education events and we look forward to developing these partnerships further in the year ahead.”

Judith Doyle, Chief Executive and Principal of Gateshead College said: “We shape young people to be work ready employees and can only do this by working with employers and making it easy for them to work with us.

“There is a huge appetite from the business community to get involved with engagement ranging from one to one mentoring and commercial projects, to curriculum design and high quality work experience and it pays off. 91% of our students went into work or higher level training last year after their course ended and left with a qualification and those really important soft skills that give them an edge in the jobs market.”

Further findings from the survey:

  • All of the educational establishments surveyed partner with businesses to provide workplace activities.
  • Of the educational establishments who responded to the survey, all partnered with local larger businesses and public sector bodies, and a majority had partnerships with local small businesses (86%) and charities and not-for-profits (71%).
  • Just over half of businesses surveyed (56%) partner with educational establishments. 88% of businesses that say they partner with schools and colleges have a relationship with two or more.
  • Business and education partnerships tend to be with institutions for older students. Secondary schools (71%), FE colleges (65%) and universities (59%) account for the majority of partnerships. Only 22% of primary schools and 4% of nurseries partner with a business.

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