The region's largest business membership organisation brought together the worlds of education and business at an event to promote closer working between the two.
The North East Chamber of Commerce set out to promote the benefits of business and school collaborations, creating a platform of communication for partnerships to emerge.
The discussions between the two illustrated the potential benefits of the link, and encouraged schools to participate in business engagement. These partnerships aim to properly prepare students for work, by not only giving them the experience they need, but ensuring they have valuable employability skills.
The event saw Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of leading manufacturing company SMD, talk about the importance of these collaborations, to result in successful business.
He said: “Schools are the foundation of economic growth, and students need to be adequately prepared for the world of work.
“The solution is business and schools working together, to create skilled and well-equipped workers who will be a success in their field. It allows students to be specifically accountable to them, benefiting the individual and the business long term.”
Hodgson is also vice-chair at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, and supports these collaborative relationships between schools and businesses. He addressed the need for higher participation, and actively encourages school engagement.
County Durham-based construction firm, Esh Group, highlighted the extensive work they undertake with schools to fulfil their added value philosophy and enhance their commercial offer.
The group offers structured skills and employability programmes, which focus on raising aspirations, work readiness and work experience. Programmes are delivered to an entire year group over the course of an academic year, comprising of guest workshops and mock interviews.
Esh Group’s added value manager Darush Dodds said: “The programmes are delivered by business people, and are of no charge to the school.
“These specifically-tailored programmes provide unique opportunities that enable students to acquire real employability skills, making them industry-ready.
“This aspect alone makes them substantially more appealing to an employee – perhaps something they wouldn’t be able to achieve from a standard curriculum.”
A total of 61% of learners perceived their qualifications as their most important tool.
“On completion, 32% noted that qualifications were not as important as they had initially thought. Before, only 10% of learners thought they would be able to perform well at interview. Afterwards, this number increased sunstantially to 47%.
Guest speakers pro-actively discussed the array of positive outcomes of linking business and education, actively encouraging school engagement.
The event allowed organisations from both sides to interact with one another, and gain a detailed understanding of how they could benefit in the long term.
The event saw positive engagement from schools, and the first steps towards developing potential strategies to drive these partnerships forward.