Skills for Employment - Update Winter 2017

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 03:22 PM

Welcome to the winter edition of our Skills for Employment Update. Now we’re coming to the end of 2017, I’d like to say a special thank you to all who’ve worked with us this year to provide new careers and employability opportunities for young people.

With Christmas approaching, we have some very “glad tidings” of our own to share with you as another seven Skills Challenge grants - aimed at developing the skills of young people to address specific skills gaps - have recently been awarded to business and education collaborations. This brings the total of such grants awarded since the summer to ten, with a total value of £342,000. 

Among the exciting Skills Challenge projects we are supporting is an initiative to increase understanding about the requirements of the logistics sector in the north and east of the county. This sector plays a crucial role in keeping business and the economy moving in Warwickshire. You can find out more about this project below, along with other collaborations to promote skills development in key sectors.

Finally, new industrial and careers strategies recently announced by central government will impact on the business and education collaborations the Skills for Employment programme supports. The Industrial Strategy sets out plans and new funding to ensure the UK is ready to capitalise on the opportunities, and meet the challenges ahead. The strategy includes a ‘People’ strand aimed at improving the skills of young people with particular emphasis on boosting the numbers achieving qualifications in science, technology, engineering and maths. The new National Careers Strategy includes several new activities to increase the level of interaction between business and education. For example, from 2020 all secondary schools will be expected to provide at least one activity with an employer for each pupil from year 7 through to 13.  

Our annual Skills Conference in 2018 will provide a great opportunity to consider and discuss these issues.Taking place on 7 March at the National Agriculture & Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh, this breakfast conference will also provide the opportunity for business and education leaders to hear our latest forecast of how Brexit is likely to impact on the county’s economy. Some of our businesses and education providers will highlight some key initiatives they’re involved in or planning to prepare for the changes ahead. There will be an opportunity to discuss further action where we can work together to address the challenges we all face. Invitations to the conference will be emailed to subscribers to this publication from mid-January so look out for that and in the meantime, please put the date in your diary to make sure you don’t miss out! 

I wish you all the very best during this festive period and hope 2018 is a prosperous and happy year for you and yours.  

To find out more about any of our initiatives, please contact Warwickshire County Council’s Economy and Skills Group on: Tel: 01926 418027, email:; or visit our website:

Monica Fogarty

Joint Managing Director, Warwickshire County Council


Firing ambition at BMW and The Coleshill School

A major project funded at the beginning of 2017 recently ended when year 11 students from The Coleshill School were invited to BMW Group’s engine manufacturing plant, Hams Hall, as part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) project. Pairs of students presented what they had learnt from BMW engineers and apprentices, who supported the students throughout the project. The presentations on hydrogen fuel cell technology, car design, and speed and efficiency testing were judged by staff from BMW, The Coleshill School and Warwickshire County Council. The students were awarded certificates and treated to a glimpse of the new BMW i8.

The Coleshill School Headteacher, Mr Childs-Smith, commented: “It was inspirational to see these boys rise to the challenge and present to both their peers and professionals. I hope that the experience will now spur them on to fulfilling their amazing potential."  

Skills Challenge grants awarded

Since August 2017, 10 projects with a total value of £342,000 have been awarded to the business and education collaborations below.

Deeley Construction and Campion School

To increase their understanding of the career opportunities and skills requirements of the construction sector, pupils will experience a range of construction skills including bricklaying, plastering and carpentry. There will also be visits to construction sites for students to gain an understanding of how building projects are undertaken.

Exact Logistics and the Warwickshire College Group

A suite of learning materials will be developed to increase students’ understanding of the requirements of the logistics sector, develop their skills for a career in logistics, improve their work readiness, and inform them about qualifications, career paths and progression opportunities in this sector. The initiative will focus initially on a pilot project involving 45 16-18-year-olds and 30 14-16-year-olds.

Arden Construction, Seco, Alcester Chamber of Commerce and Alcester Academy

This project is aimed at ensuring students from Alcester Academy have the skills and knowledge to access apprenticeships both locally and in the wider West Midlands. In turn, local businesses will be able to draw upon this pool of young people well prepared for entry level work and with enough experience to embark successfully on an advanced apprenticeship.

Employability UK, BAXI, Coventry Building Society, Henley in Arden School,  Stratford on Avon School, Higham Lane School and St. Thomas More Catholic School & Sixth Form College 

This project aims to develop pupils’ employability skills, provide work experience placements and enable them to apply for apprenticeship opportunities.

HORIBA MIRA, MIRA Technology Park tenants, local schools and colleges

HORIBA MIRA is working with MIRA Technology Park tenants, local schools and colleges to provide focused work experience placements that align with future opportunities across the MIRA Technology Park.

Infinite Pixel and Southam College

This project will enable students to discover how skills related to Virtual Reality can be used in various employment sectors such as IT, computer games, engineering, media, education and retail.

Jaguar Land Rover, Severn Trent, the Design &Technology Association and ten secondary schools

JLR and Severn Trent will work with five schools in the north and east of the county plus five from the south and west, to increase young people’s awareness of careers in design and technology. The project includes progression to apprenticeships and careers both at JLR, Severn Trent and the wider manufacturing and utilities sectors in Warwickshire.

You42 and JBC Training

A two-week gaming ‘bootcamp’ took place this summer. Ten local young people, aged 16-22, participated in a workshop where they worked in teams to develop new games which they presented to local gaming businesses. One of the participants has been offered a job when he completes year 13 in summer 2018 and other offer may follow. Take a look at this short video to find out more Video: Young people succeed at Gaming Bootcamp Warwickshire

Allelys Haulage, Brittania, GKN, Ricor, and Studley High School

The local businesses will work with the school to develop pupils’ understanding of employment opportunities in the local engineering and precision manufacturing sectors, such as project management, CAD design and production management. Pupils will start to develop skills required by those roles.  

Avon Valley School and several local businesses including Vauxhall

Up to 20 Year 11 students from Avon Valley School who are at risk of being NEET (not in education, employment, or training), have special educational needs, or are disaffected, will attend a vocational course in construction, motor vehicle, or hair and beauty. The course will help the students work towards a recognised qualification while building the skills needed to gain the students an apprenticeship offer.

Balfour Beatty awarded Warwickshire Employability Charter

Balfour Beatty became the 94th business to be awarded the Charter as recognition of the important work it does with local education providers to develop the employability skills of young people. The company is also hoping to recruit a group of new apprentices from Warwickshire schools in September 2018. Leader of the council, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, presented the Charter to Jo Dryden, Contract Director, at Shire Hall in December. The previous week, the Charter was awarded to Atkins, the global engineering company. See the list of businesses awarded the charter and find out how you could receive it here

19,000 employability activities funded by grants 

Evaluation reports from 34 schools show that around 8,000 activities were funded by grants of up to £3,000 from our Skills for Employment programme in June 2016. The grants were to support activity from September 2016-July 2017. It was the third time such grants had been awarded since February 2015. More than 11,000 activities were funded by the first two rounds so the total of activities funded is around 19,000.  

Here’s how Ashlawn School, Rugby, summarised its activity and the impact it had:

“The funded careers guidance enabled pupils to clarify their KS4 options choice. Some students at most risk of becoming NEET went on to choose a positive post-16 destination. All have applied for either a college course and/or apprenticeships.”

Additional activities have been funded by major grants worth £20,000 to £40,000. These include the BMW and Coleshill School project described above.

Build a Business Network grant awards making an impact

In the summer edition, we estimated more than 220 businesses had started to work with local schools as a result of  the Build a Business Network grant made available to schools in October 2016 to enable them to enhance their existing business network or to create a new one. Grants were awarded to 22 schools so they could commission an employer-engagement specialist to create or enhance their networks. Evaluation reports from schools received at the end of the academic year show 417  businesses participated – this is nearly double the target set of 10 businesses per school. The type of businesses engaged ranges from Aldi, IBM and JLR to local SMEs. The sectors involved are equally diverse including solicitors, hotels, day nurseries and specialist service providers.
As a result of this success we offered the grant to all of the schools who did not apply before. Kenilworth School & 6th Form and Shipston High School have recently been awarded the grant.