North East Mayoral Candidate and LEP Board Member Jeremy Middleton has endorsed a call for better links between business and education from one of the region’s top business leaders.
Mr Middleton, who is a governor of the Studio West school in Newcastle, where pupils participate in up to two days of work experience a week, welcomed a report by Bob Paton, Managing Director of Accenture’s Newcastle Delivery Centre. Mr Paton’s report highlights existing successful collaborations between schools and the business community, supports similar measures in the North East Devolution Deal, and calls on businesses to become ‘fully engaged’ with the process.
Mr Paton, who produced the report in a personal capacity, made recommendations including more business leaders becoming school governors, businesses becoming involved in careers advice, more apprenticeships, and the ability to replace the National Curriculum with one that better matches the economic and skills needs of the North East.
Supporting the report, Mr Middleton said: “The North East has the highest unemployment in the UK, and by far the highest proportion of young people not in education, employment or training, despite us having some of country’s best schools and universities. This isn’t a new phenomenon, it has been the case for years, which means we need a different approach.
“Bob’s report highlights a number of measures that could improve the lives of the North East’s young people, and secure the region’s economic future. He was right to talk about the support for this approach in the Devolution Deal. By making decisions locally, education can be far more responsive to the needs of business, which in turn improves the employability of school and university leavers.
“As mayor I would work with schools, teachers and employers to identify the region’s employment trends and skills gaps and develop a ‘North East Curriculum’, to supplement the National Curriculum, focussed on STEM, work readiness and life skills.”