Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and thank you Christine [Hodgson, Chair, Careers & Enterprise Company] for that introduction.
It’s a real delight to be here in Liverpool today for this conference, to take stock of what The Careers & Enterprise Company has achieved already and for me, as the Secretary of State, to outline the government’s vision for careers provision, which we believe should be high-quality, consistent, engaging with employers, made up of several rather than one-off encounters, which start early on in a young person’s life.
Careers provision should focus on giving young people the information, aspiration, advice and training that will allow them to unlock their potential.
It has been a year now since The Careers & Enterprise Company appointed its CEO, Claudia Harris, and started its operations in earnest. It’s so great to see Claudia here today and I know you’re going to hear her speak later about her own enthusiasm for and dedication to the aims of the company.
Let me take this opportunity to thank Claudia for all the hard work she, and her team, have put in so far.
The truth is there is so much energy and enthusiasm in the careers space, and there are huge amounts of talent and excellent practice too, but there isn’t enough co-ordination. That’s why the work of the company is so important - amplifying the work of others as it seeks to ‘join the dots’ from education to the world of work.
It’s great to see so many of you here today as providers of careers and enterprise services, businesses, and school and college leaders - all seeking to support young people as they make the transition from school to the world of work.
Making real links between schools and colleges and those who can help young people to unlock their potential is vital to improving the life chances of individuals and delivering the social justice that we, as a government, are committed to. But it’s also vital for our country as a whole and our economy because we can achieve so much more when we harness everyone’s talents.
As I have said in the past, and as I’m sure all of you know, there is no one route to success. I believe in the academic route and I believe in the technical and skilled route, too - because we all have differing skills and strengths - so I want to see parity between the routes offered to young people, so they can make a real choice in choosing their career.
At the heart of The Careers & Enterprise Company’s work, as well as the government’s vision for the future of careers provision, is the Enterprise Adviser Network, established to build the long-lasting, regional coalitions that can inspire and prepare young people to make the right choices about their futures.
The Enterprise Adviser Network is the cornerstone of the company’s work, making it easier for schools and colleges to connect with local employers and careers and enterprise providers across the country. The network is able to stimulate provision where it is scarce or lacking, and filter the quality services where provision is overloaded or confusing.
Since its launch only 6 months ago, the Enterprise Adviser Network has engaged more than 30 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), including my own in Leicester and Leicestershire and I was so pleased to speak, alongside Claudia, at the launch of my local Network at the National Space Centre in Leicester last week.
I know that Leicester and Leicestershire’s own Enterprise Co-ordinator, Abdul Bathin, is here today. His passion and enthusiasm for young people and building links with business is infectious and I know that he will grow a fantastic local network in my area, where he will soon be joined by more enterprise co-ordinators.
Locally here in the Liverpool city region there have been 4 enterprise co-ordinators in post since February, engaging with 30 schools, and 16 enterprise advisers who have been matched to 7 schools.
The national network already has 60 full-time enterprise co-ordinators employed by local enterprise partnerships all over the country, co-funded by the Careers & Enterprise Company; and has already signed up 600 schools.
The huge scale of that success in such a short time is testament to the collaborative leadership offered by the local enterprise partnerships and the dedication of the enterprise co-ordinators and business volunteers. But I know that this is only the beginning and I have no doubt that the national and local networks will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.
Alongside the Enterprise Adviser Network, The Careers & Enterprise Company is working to transform careers provision across the country, growing the evidence, sharing what works and providing investment, enabling the best programmes to scale up their work and do more in the areas where they are needed most.
It’s such a pleasure to see the 33 amazing projects backed by The Careers & Enterprise Company in their recent careers and enterprise fund. With government’s investment and by unlocking match funding, £9.5 million is backing the people and organisations working hard in this area, with 75% going to ‘cold spot’ areas where it is needed most.
What’s remarkable about this is that almost a quarter of a million young people stand to benefit.
And they will be benefiting from projects like CareerConnect here in Liverpool, a STEM-focussed programme which coaches young people to develop key character traits that will help them to succeed like confidence and resilience; Bridge to Work, from my own area in Loughborough, which offers flexible skills and coaching courses to help students get their careers on the right path; Groundwork UK in Birmingham which, through its enterprise camp, helps unemployed young people to develop their skills and engage with employers; the Ideas Foundation, providing inspiring encounters for young people with advertising and design agencies; and many more.
I understand that most, if not all, of the 33 programmes benefitting from the funding are here today. Let me say to you, I am so excited to see the impact of your work and looking forward to meeting you all.
One thing which has been shown to improve the life chances of young people is high-quality mentoring. We know that inspiration has to start young, so that’s why I am delighted that later this year The Careers & Enterprise Company will be launching its mentoring campaign to unlock mentors from across the business community and its supporting fund.
This exciting and important work will further bridge the gap between education and employment, scaling up proven mentoring programmes across the country, particularly in ‘cold spot’ areas.
The campaign will target young people and our rightly ambitious aim by 2020 is to reach and serve 25,000 young people a year who are most at risk of disengaging by offering them high-quality, careers-focussed mentoring.
Unlocking young people’s potential is something that involves all of us - which is why there is such a need for co-ordination and galvanisation if we are to end the postcode lottery that has existed in careers and enterprise provision for far too long. It means everyone involved needs to engage and make sure their voices are heard.
I’m really pleased to say The Careers & Enterprise Company intends to facilitate powerful, local voices in education to support the Enterprise Adviser Network. The company proposes to convene annually 39 school leaders who represent schools on local enterprise partnership boards. Those school leaders will ensure effective dialogue exists between the network and schools and colleges.
I have to say that I have been incredibly impressed by the scale of support from employers. A roundtable earlier this year brought together 40 leading employers and I will be convening the chief executives of those companies later this year to further harness their collective influence.
At the event in Leicestershire last week it was amazing to hear employers talk about their input to the Enterprise Adviser Network and, on the day, we had new volunteers stepping forward to get involved and offer their expertise.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone: careers and enterprise organisations, employers and schools for the hard work that is transforming this hugely important agenda.
The voluntary work of employers is a really important part of supporting the system to become a success and, if you’ve already signed up, please keep working with The Careers & Enterprise Company and your local enterprise partnership to improve the Enterprise Adviser Network, to scale up fantastic provision in your local areas; and sponsor those cold spots where better provision is so desperately needed.
The willingly collaborative work of our many excellent careers and enterprise organisations has been remarkable over this last year and I know that in continuing to work together so much more can be achieved.
I know the schools who are already working with the Enterprise Adviser Network recognise its worth to their students and I’d like to encourage all schools to work with the network and local enterprise co-ordinators to build employer engagement plans and take advantage of the Gatsby Tool 1 that Sir John Holman and the Careers and Enterprise Company are launching later this year.
I’m delighted that our ambitions to improve the life chances of young people all over England are continually being strengthened. I am constantly thrilled to see the great work going on up and down the country to ensure our nation’s young people have every opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential - securing the prosperous future everyone wants and deserves.
I’m particularly pleased that The Careers & Enterprise Company is working closely with the government’s flagship National Citizen Service programme to look at the ways young people participating in it can benefit from engagement with employers and other organisations.
I know that if we all continue to work together: government, schools, business, providers and LEPs - then we can make a real difference to the life chances and future prosperity of everyone coming through the education system and heading into the world of work, whilst at the same time growing our economy with the types of skilled jobs it really needs.
Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for your hard work. And thank you for making a difference to the lives of children and young people.
1 The Careers & Enterprise Company have announced a partnership with the Gatsby Foundation to create an online tool that will enable schools and colleges to identify the areas of careers and enterprise provision in which they are particularly effective, as well as areas in which there is scope for them to develop. Set to launch this summer, the online tool will help schools and colleges match their current careers practice against the Gatsby Foundation’s eight benchmarks for good careers provision with the ambition of informing future strategies and effectively improving the way young people are supported to move into work.