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Co-op boss says companies must play greater role in supporting education

The Co-Op. Picture: DIMITRIS LEGAKIS/ATHENA PICTURES

The Co-Op. Picture: DIMITRIS LEGAKIS/ATHENA PICTURES

Athena Picture Agency Ltd

Companies are being urged to make a "major investment" in education to help prepare youngsters for the world of work.

The Co-op said businesses had to play an increasing role in supporting students as a way of boosting the UK’s productivity record.

The company added that it is committed to trebling the number of academies it sponsors.

Pippa Wicks, deputy chief executive of the Co-op, said industry demands high quality talent but too few were investing to make it happen.

Speaking at the launch of the Co-op Academies Trust annual report, she said: “We are all acutely aware of the productivity gap which exists in the UK and the dynamic nature of the global economy, which is only set to intensify.

“I am not suggesting every business follows the Co-op into sponsoring academies but industry can offer schools and their pupils so much more from providing senior managers as governors to offering structured work experience programmes and site visits.

“The academies we have sponsored have all seen improvements and pupils’ aspirations have been raised, whilst our colleagues have benefited greatly from being directly involved in this journey.”

The Co-op recently announced it was putting a further £3.6m into its academies programme to kick-start the next growth phase, which will see the number of schools increase from 12 to 40 in the next three years across the north of England.

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