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Career skills in spotlight as schools return

To coincide with the start of the new school term, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has unveiled an ambitious plan to put thousands of young people in England directly in touch with local businesses, to improve the quality of careers advice they receive.

Long-term trends show A Level and GCSE results continue to improve, but youth unemployment is almost three times the national average – possibly highlighting a mismatch between academic achievement and work readiness.

The Chambers of Commerce network, which covers the whole of the country, will run 250 career events, bringing together thousands of pupils, businesses, schools, colleges and training providers in order to address this issue and improve young people’s prospects for a successful career.

The ‘Your Future’ programme of career events, supported by the Skills Funding Agency, will give 70,000 young people access to potential employers, showcase the range of career options open to them, and help them to plan their future to take advantage of these opportunities. It will also give businesses the platform to meet the employees of tomorrow and to talk about the skills and qualities they look for when recruiting.

The programme, which will be managed by St Helens Chamber, will launch at the end of September 2015, to coincide with the new academic term, and will run until March 2016.

Commenting, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“If young people are to make good decisions about their future career options, they need access to relevant, complete, and engaging information – and to the real businesspeople that make these options come to life. Otherwise, the gap between young people and business will continue, as too many learners study and train in areas where there is little demand for new employees.

“To bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work, we’re putting together a programme that will break down barriers between pupils and businesses, bringing thousands of students and companies together at local events across England.

“By connecting the employees of tomorrow with local businesses, we are helping each to improve their understanding of the other. That means young people will be better able to prepare for the careers they want – whether that is through an apprenticeship, further training or higher education – and businesses will have the chance to meet the talent they need to thrive and grow. This is a win-win scenario and we are confident that it will make a real difference to young people and businesses nationwide.”

Joe Billington, Deputy Director of Consumer Services at the Skills Funding Agency said:

“The Skills Funding Agency is pleased to be supporting the ‘Your Future’ programme of events which will be an excellent, innovative way to increase young people’s understanding of the world of work, sharing our own National Careers Service vision of inspiring young people to look ahead, seek the next opportunity, and develop new skills to prepare for the future”.