Ministerial visit for Lancashire Careers Hub

To mark the visit from Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson CBE MP, Kay Vaughan, Careers Hub Lead for Inspira, shares her thoughts about the success of the Careers Hub model in Lancashire. The Lancashire Careers Hub was awarded Careers Hub of the Year in the Careers Excellence Awards 2019.

Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure to help launch the Enterprise Adviser Network in Lancashire and more recently lead the development of the pilot Careers Hub. I work closely with colleagues at Inspira, The Careers & Enterprise Company, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and the Lancashire Skills & Employment Hub. Collectively we have launched a wide-ranging mission to improve careers education in the county. This involves working closely with schools, colleges and local businesses.

The journey has surpassed my expectations in a relatively short period of time. There are 131 schools and colleges engaged in the Lancashire Enterprise Adviser Network, and 30 in the Lancashire Careers Hub which spans Blackpool, Burnley and Pendle. Our local partners have embraced the Careers Hub model within the county, which as a result, has shown accelerated progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks of Best PracticeCreating sustainable skills and employment to drive prosperity is key to Lancashire’s future. The recognition as Careers Hub of the Year in the Careers Excellence Awards is a fantastic achievement for us as a county. Lancashire is undertaking vital work in this area, and the Careers Hub team and I are proud of this national recognition.

The Lancashire Careers Hub is built on the strong foundations of the Lancashire Enterprise Adviser Network.  We have developed a structured partnership model, working closely with the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, Blackpool Opportunity Area and Burnley and Pendle Councils, to ensure the Lancashire Careers Hub is aligned to local priorities.  These areas were targeted based on data relating to disadvantage and school attainment.  Schools and colleges within the Hub have embraced the support and a community of practice is emerging. Shuttleworth College is lead school for the Lancashire Careers Hub and Head Teacher, Ruth England, is on the Lancashire Skills and Employment Advisory Panel. Mrs England recently said: “We are thrilled with the success of the commendation. The business and education networks we have built as part of the Careers Hub and working alongside the LEP have been great. It is fantastic to see more and more of our young people benefitting from quality encounters with employers and training providers.”

We are delighted to have received the support of employer networks across the county.  The Fylde Coast Responsible Business Network, Burnley Bondholders and Pendle Connects networks have adopted the Careers Hub – advocating for their members to become Enterprise Advisers and support meaningful encounters with employers.  Young people are being inspired through a wide range of activities with employers and are having their eyes opened to the plethora of job opportunities on their doorstep, as well as through labour market intelligence produced by the LEP.  A young person in Blackpool stated that they had to “see it, to be it” and had a clear aspiration to become a paralegal following a workplace experience.  It is wonderful to see young people’s aspirations develop, boosting social mobility, particularly in areas like Blackpool where our work is aligned with the Opportunity Area.  As an area we have a drive to ensure each and every young person has the opportunity to experience encounters with employers ensuring we tailor the support of the Careers Hub to meet the individual needs of the institutions. I spend time meeting with all the Careers Leaders within the Careers Hub, and it is heartening to hear of the impact that is starting to be realised. 

At a recent employer engagement event developed in partnership with an Enterprise Adviser and SEND School, local employers were invited to an extraordinary lunch networking event hosted by a group of post-16 students.  Employers were invited to meet the next generation of future employees who, due to disability or Special Educational Needs are sometimes overlooked in the workplace. Each student showcased their skills, illustrating that if businesses provide the right environment for them, then they can thrive in their future careers.  All the employers were impressed with the students’ friendliness, confidence and determination to have a successful future. Additionally, employers were asked to write down pledges as a result of the visit which included increasing their work experience offer and being more inclusive when recruiting. 

I am extremely proud to be leading the Lancashire Careers Hub. Our approach has encouraged collaborative working between a range of schools, including Pupil Referral Units, SEND schools and Further Education providers. We always encourage the sharing of best practice and we have established a sustainable model of support that we will be accessing for years to come. The accelerated progress we have achieved in Lancashire has meant that several schools have achieved all eight of the Gatsby Benchmarks with an average Benchmark achievement currently of 5.6 Benchmarks.

Kay Vaughan, Lancashire Careers Hub Lead, Inspira

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