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Update - Spring 2018

Monica Fogarty, Joint Managing Director, Warwickshire County Council

Hello and welcome to our latest round up of news from the Skills for Employment (SfE) Programme - the programme which helps businesses tackle skills shortages and enables young people to become work-ready. Earlier this month, more than 100 people from Warwickshire’s business and education communities got together for our  fourth annual skills conference.

The conference focused on the skills challenges and opportunities facing the county, and how they can best be met. This was our best attended  so far and received excellent feedback from delegates. 100% said the event was extremely or very helpful; 80% said they were highly likely to engage with our SfE programme and 65% said they’d made new contacts they would be following up.

The County Council has allocated an additional £600,000 for the SfE programme 2018-20. Feedback from delegates will be used to shape the future of programme and how the additional funds will be spent. Opportunities to apply for new funding will be published and sent directly to our contacts in schools and colleges by early June.

Below you can read more about some of the impressive achievements we’ve made together in addressing the region’s skills shortages, as well as find out about new initiatives you may wish to be involved in.

A full house at the annual Warwickshire County Council skills conference at Stoneleigh Park.

If you’d like to find out more about the Skills for Employment Programme, please contact Warwickshire County Council’s Economy and Skills Group on: Tel: 01926 418027, email:

Monica Fogarty
Joint Managing Director, Warwickshire County Council

Highlights from Warwickshire County Council’s Skills for Employment Programme fourth annual skills conference

David Ayton-Hill, Economy & Skills Group Manager, WCC, presented key economic data and information that painted the picture of skills now, and in the future, including:

  • Warwickshire is the fastest growing economy in the country since the recession.
  • 78.7% of working age population are in employment.
  • More than 1,000 young people aged 16-18 leave education every year and may be looking for work.
  • 1 in 5 low wage jobs are filled by EU nationals, many of whom would not meet current visa entry requirements.
  • 116,000 current jobs in Warwickshire are at high risk of being lost to automation in the future.
  • Four key skills have been identified as being needed for the jobs of the future: communication; strategic; analytical; and innovative.

Nationally, 65% of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist.

L to R: Steve Stewart, Chief Executive, Careers England; Cllr Colin Hayfield, County Council Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning and Sarah Windrum, CEO of the Emerald Group and Digital skills lead for Coventry & Warwickshire LEP at the recent annual Skills Conference, Stoneleigh Park.

Feedback on the new national Careers Strategy
Delegates also heard an interesting overview of new initiatives and investment announced in the government’s latest Careers Strategy, from Steve Steward, Chief Executive, Careers England. Delegates identified Employer Engagement as the biggest challenge by a big margin. This valuable feedback is being incorporated into the Skills for Employment programme for the next two years. Other challenges that were identified were:  Finding time in the curriculum for Careers activity and Appointing a Careers Leader.

Lively Q&A at the Skills Conference featuring a fantastic panel of experts. L to R: Lee Gray, Headteacher, Studley High School; Neil Coker, Vice Principal, Warwickshire College Group; Lindsay Stewart, Chief Operating Officer, Stratford on Avon College; Elaine Stock, Assistant Head, Avon Valley School and Sarah Windrum, CEO of the Emerald Group and Digital skills lead for Coventry & Warwickshire LEP; Mark Ryder, Head of Transport & Economy WCC; Steve Stewart, Chief Executive, Careers England.

The way forward: new collaborations between business and education
Delegates were asked to identify ideas for collaborative working between business and education to help inform the future direction of the Skills for Employment programme, ideas included:

New funding for SfE
Councillor Peter Butlin, in introducing the conference announced that  the County Council has allocated an additional £600,000 for the Skills for Employment (SfE) Programme for 2018-20. This is in addition to the £2.4 million invested in the programme since 2015 to help businesses tackle skills shortages and enable young people to become work-ready.
Opportunities to apply for new funding will be published and sent directly to our named contacts in schools and colleges by early June.
Take a look at this short film for an overview of current activity:

Employability UK builds pupils’ confidence

Two local firms are working with Employability UK, an education charity, to enhance the employability of year 10 pupils in four Warwickshire schools with funding from a County Council Skills Challenge grant. Boiler specialist manufacturer BAXI, and the Coventry Building Society are supporting the project with work placements later this year. The companies hope by developing long-term relationship with the schools, they will in due course be able to recruit from the pool of talented, local young people.  
Employability UK is working with Henley in Arden School, Higham Lane School, Stratford-on-Avon School, and St. Thomas More Catholic School & Sixth Form College to deliver interactive workshops and motivational talks on employability skills and the world of work.

This short film shows some highlights from the project:
Employability UK is keen to work with many more Warwickshire schools to help them meet some of the new requirements of the national careers strategy, such as providing meaningful encounters with employers for years 7 and above. For more information contact
Warwickshire school wins Digital Schoolhouse regional esports Tournament

King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon recently came out top in the regional heat of the Digital Schoolhouse esports Tournament. The school is now preparing to compete in the grand final which is set to be both a competitive gaming and a careers education event taking place at Gfinity’s London arena, on 11 April 2018, during the London Games Festival.

Students from King Edward VI’s team - ‘KES: Battle Bards’ - beat four other teams in the regional heat hosted  by Staffordshire University, which recently announced the launch of the UK’s first esports degree. The event was also a chance for students to take in the university’s facilities and equipment.

Organised by Digital Schoolhouse, the education programme run by the games industry trade body, Ukie, and powered by PlayStation, the tournament will allow students from King Edward VI to meet professionals in a variety of roles within the sector, promoting the importance of computing skills and the wealth of careers available in games.

Warwickshire County Council is a key sponsor for Digital Schoolhouse in the region, as it supports one of the Skills for Employment programme’s key objectives -  to ensure that, in years to come, businesses in the digital sector are fully supplied with the skilled young people they need.

As well as King Edward VI School, there are three other secondary schools in the Digital Schoolhouse project in Warwickshire: Campion School (Leamington Spa), The Coleshill School and  Kineton High School . As part of the initiative, the four schools receive teacher-training by university and industry professionals, a unique and innovative personalised programme of support and access to a wide variety of lesson plans, resources and engagement with industry. Each school will also form the centre hub of a local network linking up with primary schools.
Virtual Reality comes to Southam

Teachers using VR headsets at Infinite Pixel workshop

Virtual Reality specialists Infinite Pixel recently led an exciting VR workshop for teachers at Southam College. The day focused on 360 degree filming and editing and was part of a broader project funded by a Skills for Employment Skills Challenge grant. The aim of the project is to enable students to become more work-ready for employment in the IT and digital
sectors; as well as to encourage more students to choose digital, IT and media subjects for study in the sixth form.

The workshop took place in the new dedicated Careers room at the college which was partly-funded with a Skills for Employment grant.

A further workshop for.teachers and pupils from other schools will take place in the summer term. For information, contact the Southam College careers lead, Andrew Hughes:
GrantFairy Scholarship App - free for Yr12 and Yr13 Students

When Myles Jardine was accepted by his first-choice university, it should have been cause for celebration. But he decided to pass up the opportunity.
"I just couldn't come to terms with the idea of graduating with a £50,000 debt," said Myles. "I realised that if it was a problem for me, then it's a problem for other young people too, and I didn't want them to be put in the same position, so I decided to do something about it."

Myles Jardine, GrantFairy

His solution is GrantFairy a mobile app which helps students find scholarships to pay university tuition fees and living expenses.
Released in January, the app is already gaining popularity and has thousands of subscribers due to its easy-to-use interface and instant results. Students create a profile which matches them with a personalised list of scholarship opportunities based on their individual personal circumstances.

"Scholarships are poorly publicised and little understood,” Myles said. “There's free money out there but you need to know where to find it. And it's not just for the high-flyers - scholarships are available for everyone."
Most interestingly, a new feature was unveiled earlier this month at the PiXL6 conference in Westminster: GrantFairy’s free school system enables high-schools and sixth-form colleges to give their students free access to the app to find scholarships before going to university.
Full details can be found here:
Or you can email Myles directly:

Manufacturing Technology Centre

Pupils from Ash Green, Avon Valley and Lawrence Sherriff schools attended a busy Apprenticeships open evening at the MTC on 20th March to find out about the Advanced apprenticeship opportunities on offer for this year’s school-leavers. MTC employs and trains apprentices before placing them into industry.

MTC is also seeking to increase the number of schools it works with to raise the awareness of STEM careers. It appoints a current apprentice as a STEM ambassador for each school. Wherever possible, MTC seeks to appoint a former pupil of the school in this role to strengthen links further. STEM ambassadors offer a range of activities and support such as visits to schools to discuss careers, attend careers events, support with STEM activities and arrange visits to MTC.

To find out more, contact

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