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Students must engage with workplace, careers champion tells conference

Claudia Harris pictured was speaking at a major regional business skills conference in Luton. 

She told delegates: “We need to get more young people engaging with the workplace, making sure they have access to the correct advice and information about their future career paths.”

Mrs Harris, chief executive of the Careers & Enterprise Company, was the keynote speaker at the Skills Summit, organised by the Federation of Small Businesses and the University of Bedfordshir amnd staged at the university’s Putteridge Bury conference centre in Luton.  

The event brought together small businesses and teachers from across the region to help improve the way that young people are prepared for the workplace and to find ways to ensure they have the skills needed to flourish and for the local economy to prosper.

Mrs Harris  as joined by regional FSB chairman Graham Buck, Eamonn Keenan head of CPD and short courses for the University of Bedfordshire, Hitchinand Harpenden MP Peter Lilley and Sam Baker, head of business and education partnerships at Mark Rutherford School.  

She explained the reasons why the company was set up. She talked about how it manages a network of more than 1,000 enterprise advisers across the country who work with local schools and use their influence and expertise to improve employability and skills through employer engagement, careers advice and providing access to local business networks.

She added: “Our network of Enterprise Advisers has been set up to ensure that young people have this support so they can succeed in today’s fast changing jobs market.”

The seminar was hosted by FSB Bedfordshire branch chairman Ian Cording. He said: “Our members tell us that they are not always able to find the skills they need from among our young people and we believe that this is a problem that the FSB needs to address in partnership with local educational establishments. 

“This seminar was a great start. As well as the variety of key speakers, we had groups of businesses and teachers working together to come up with solutions to these issues.”

There were a number of other workshops in which educators and businesses explored topics such as opportunities in small businesses, skills, apprenticeships and work experience.  

University Project manager Paula Page said: “I have received tremendously positive feedback already from the attendees about how useful the seminar was and we look forward to building on the outcomes at a similar event next year.”