Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 15.10.32Successful businessman Gary Burton has joined a Northumberland school’s senior management team creating a powerful alliance to guide the future job prospects of hundreds of pupils.

He is the region’s first Enterprise Advisor – spearheading a North East Local Enterprise Partnership initiative embedding business leaders into secondary schools on a voluntary basis to help teachers shape the delivery of careers education.

Gary, managing director at specialist engineering firm Arefco, is offering his industry expertise as part of the team at the Northumberland Church of England (C of E) Academy’s Ashington campus. He will bring extensive industry knowledge to the school to ensure careers provision for pupils meets business need.

The close working relationship between Arefco – based on the Jubilee Industrial Estate in Ashington – and Northumberland C of E Academy is part of the North East LEP’s wider work to boost economic growth through educational achievement.

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP Chair, said: “The LEP’s Education Challenge is committed to improving business-education links.

“Our ambition is to ensure that every young person in the North East is able to identify routes to a successful working life – with the opportunity from an early age to have exposure to the world of work and meet people along the way who can inspire and motivate them.

“The Enterprise Advisors are a key part of this and we are excited to see the value that they bring. If you are a passionate, successful leader and believe you could inspire the young people of our region, you should absolutely get involved with this project. It is our opportunity as a business community to support our young people and I would encourage you to do so.”

A total of 24 schools from Berwick to Durham have signed up to the Enterprise Advisor Network, each to be allocated a volunteer business leader in their area to work with them on careers development. Together, they are looking to refine the way schools and businesses interact, examine their enterprise strategies and fill any gaps.

Gary said: “We have a very specific need for technical skills and the type of people we need are just not in the shop window for us to employ.

“Through the partnership with the academy, we can identify the right attitude, aptitude and approach pupils will need to successfully develop and progress into sustainable employment – it’s a win-win opportunity.

“Arefco is involved in the project as a business that cares passionately about putting our combined hundreds of years’ worth of knowledge into giving young people a chance to follow their career of choice.”

Steve Gibson, Northumberland C of E Academy Secondary School Principal, accompanied pupils on a tour of Arefco’s factory. He said: “It is vital for schools to work in partnership with employers to ensure that our young people are fully prepared for their future education and careers.”

North East LEP Enterprise Co-ordinator Denis Heaney is leading the project for the region.

“The world of work is changing and this unique programme is an opportunity for businesses like Arefco to be embedded within a school and make a massive difference to students and their future prospects,” said Denis.

“For the first time, business leaders like Gary will sit alongside head teachers and their senior leadership team, to embed careers development, enterprise and employer engagement into the curriculum from Year 7 onwards so it is taught on a daily basis.”

Arefco employs 65 people at its Jubilee Industrial Estate base, having recently expanded with the acquisition of Stephenson Precision Components of Blyth as the next stage in its growth plans.

It manufactures high precision components for the oil and gas, aerospace, defence and renewables sectors, for blue chip companies such as Halliburton, Aker Solutions and GE.

The North East project is part of the national voluntary Enterprise Advisor Network which reflects new Government careers policy. The programme is being co-ordinated at a national level through the Careers and Enterprise Company.