Education Secretary Justine Greening visited Blackpool on Thursday 1 December, one of the first 6 opportunity areas aimed at boosting education, skills and opportunity in social mobility ‘coldspots’.
Ms Greening first visited the South Shore Fire Station to meet young people who are benefitting from the Prince’s Trust Team programme, which helps unemployed 16- to 25-year-olds to get into work or training. The 12-week scheme gives young people - many of whom have had mental health issues or been in care - personalised support, including work placements, careers guidance and qualifications in personal development and employment.
The Education Secretary then went on to meet staff and students of Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC) - one of the UK’s leading further education colleges. The college places strong emphasis on those aspects of education which are needed to secure high-value employment for its students and drive the economy.
More than 1,800 businesses choose B&FC as their training delivery partner including Ford, Morrisons and BAE Systems. B&FC recently won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work with employers to co-create bespoke professional higher and degree apprenticeship skill solutions and is a champion of the social mobility agenda.
The Education Secretary had a tour of the college’s Fleetwood Nautical Campus and was shown the extensive, higher technical facilities on the nautical site, including a professional nautical simulation facility and training pool.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said:
We want to make Britain a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That means widening horizons and creating opportunities for young people across the country who otherwise might not get the chance to make the most of their talents.
Connecting schools and local employers can not only improve social mobility but also has potential benefits to the local economy. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), accompanied the Secretary of State at B&FC. The CBI says that improving educational outcomes for young people is a key driver for boosting local productivity.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:
The CBI’s latest report, ‘Unlocking regional growth’, shows that investing in education and skills is vital if we are to increase productivity and lay the foundations for prosperity and long-term economic growth.
Our education and skills system must equip all young people for their future - regardless of background or where they live.
Alongside Blackpool, the first 6 opportunity areas will be West Somerset, Norwich, Scarborough, Derby and Oldham, with a number of further areas to be announced in the coming months. All areas will benefit from additional funding - a share of £60 million - and from tailored plans to form local partnerships with early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and local authorities in order to help all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter what their background.