The Skills Show at NEC Birmingham marked the launch of ‘CSR City’, and ‘Make the Grade Birmingham’, in a new drive to improve business opportunities for young people in Birmingham.
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) City – a city-wide partnership led by Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Birmingham City Council – aims to reduce the skills gap through a proven model for excellent business engagement for schools and colleges across Birmingham and the wider city region. This will be delivered through collaboration with the Ahead Partnership and their very successful, flexible business/education model – ‘Make the Grade’. Ahead and CSR City have developed a bespoke version of this model called ‘Make the Grade Birmingham’, to deliver CSR support to the region’s students by generating the skills that Birmingham businesses need to succeed in the future.
Designed to better integrate the world of work with education, ‘CSR City’ and ‘Make the Grade Birmingham’ will improve the motivation and aspirations of young people, whilst enhancing their employability skills and increasing their awareness of the world of work. It will also help employers – large and small – to work together to address the skills gaps through practical activity, which develops young people to better prepare them for employment. Lead businesses – including Balfour Beatty, Birmingham Airport, Pinsent Masons and Royal Bank of Scotland – have already signed up to the scheme along with numerous partner schools.
Pupils from King Edward Aston Boys School practising their interview skills
Andy Street, Chair of The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “There is universal acceptance of the value of business engagement in improving the employability of young people, raising aspirations and better informing them of career opportunities. In making our students more ‘work ready’ this will, in turn, raise levels of employment, help address our skills gaps and so boost economic growth in Birmingham and across the West Midlands.”
Stephanie Burras, CEO of Ahead Partnership, said: “We have been connecting businesses and schools successfully for five years with our Make the Grade programme in Yorkshire, and we are delighted to be working with CSR City to bring this successful scheme to Birmingham and the wider city region.
“We know that young people who get the chance of well structured experience of the world of work with employers gain huge benefits. Evidence shows that they are more likely to stay within education, training or employment, are increasingly motivated to learn and are likely to earn more in future life.”