Unlocking the potential of Norfolk’s young people was the focus of a conference yesterday aimed at bringing businesses face to face with education leaders, MPs and the workers of the future.

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Nearly 200 people attended the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce event at Dunston Hall, near Norwich.

Tackling youth unemployment and improving access to apprenticeships is becoming a hot topic among local business leaders and policymakers.

Among the areas considered were how to bridge the gap between business and education, strengthening the opportunities for young people in the business world and helping young start-up businesses to get off the ground.

The session also heard from South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss about changes to the national curriculum announced this week, particularly changes in maths and computer sciences.

Caroline Williams, Chamber chief executive, said: “What we wanted to do was get businesses, schools, colleges and young people into one room, first to get to know one another and understand one another’s viewpoint.

“This is just the start and I want to highlight key actions we can do as a community so that we can work together to make a difference.”

The event ties in with an ambitious project known as Norwich For Jobs, which aims to find 1,000 jobs for the city’s young people in the space of two years.

The Norwich Foundation For Jobs – the group behind the campaign – is calling for businesses to pledge their support by creating opportunities for young people.

In signing the pledge, business leaders will also be asked to specify what kind of opportunities they hope to be able to offer.

Ian Hacon, chief executive of Blue Sky Leisure and Chamber vice-president, said young people formed a key part of his workforce.

But he added that schools needed to make sure pupils were equipped with the skills needed for the world of work.

“Young people make a significant contribution to our business,” Mr Hacon said. “My message would be to help make them work-ready, so that they come in not just with the right qualifications, but also the right attitude.”

Ms Truss said that, with industries such as farming demanding more technological know-how, it was vital youngsters were equipped with the skills to compete in a global marketplace.

“Even more important than the infrastructure is the human capital that we have in this county – that’s what’s really going to deliver for us in the future.”

Michael Rose, head of the Wayland Academy, said it had successfully placed 140 out of 146 students into work and training, but he stressed it was also vital to provide employment opportunities for youngsters in rural areas.

Don’t miss the chance to find your perfect job – visit Archant Norfolk’s Jobs Fair at Norwich City Football Club on Thursday, March 7, 9am-6pm. Admission and car parking are free. For more details, contact Alison White at 01603 772115 or alison.white@archant.co.uk

The foundation will also keep a monthly watch on the number of businesses taking the pledge and the number of opportunities they are offering local young people. To find out more, go to www.norwichforjobs.org.uk

3 comments

  • Are you sure you don't mean "Business event launches another photo opp for Liz"? And why won't my browser display the thought bubble coming from her head - "is the camera on me yet, must look like I am paying attention"? Reading this made me feel like Miss Trust is stealing Chloe Smith's big idea - nothing more from you on that subject in what seems like an eternity now given that every other article mentioned it in some way during launch week. Has Smith blown herself out with too much CHOC? NFJ was never going to catch on because it sounds so dull, but everyone loves CHOC, I believe, although perhaps less so in the case of Chloe's Hypocritically Opportunistic Campaign.

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

  • Whilst the open door policy of letting in thousands of youngsters from all the failed former Communist Baltic bloc countries remains the same, jobs for the native youth of Norfolk are going to be in rather short supply.

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    nrg

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

  • Businesses don't want to employ people because of all the paperwork involved. If this inept coalition made it easier to take on staff,the problem would be solved! The latest tax initiative called RTI,[real time input] means every time an employee is paid,weekly,monthly,or casual payment,HMRC has to be informed at the time the payment was made,not at the end of the year! Not only will many small businesses not take on extra staff,but they will get rid of their existing employees because of all the extra work involved! A brilliant move,especially in a recession,so politicians are endorsing an initiative while quietly sabotaging it by the back door! Simplification of the tax system would make it easier to take on staff,but this government are continuing Gordon Brown's obsession with complexity,so the economy will stay flat!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

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