Bringing business into the classroom

February 4, 2019

Recruitment agency Zenith People is bringing schools and business together in a new programme to raise awareness of the diversity of careers available in South Tyneside, to bridge the region’s skills gap

The Exchange is a partnership between South Tyneside Council, schools and businesses to strengthen and support routes into employment.

The Council has worked with Zenith People to create business and education projects to improve awareness of career opportunities and skill requirements with young people, teachers and parents.

The friendly and professional recruitment agency – with offices based in Monkton Business Park, Hebburn, and South Shields – recognises the skills shortage within the region alongside a growing demand for expertise in key industries, including advanced manufacturing and IT, and took the opportunity to make a difference for the future.

After inviting secondary schools across the borough to apply for the programmes, students from four South Tyneside schools are currently working with an employer from their chosen sector on a Dragon’s Den-style challenge.

Angela Anderson, managing director of Zenith People, says: “Through the business and education projects, we aim to help pupils to understand what happens in business and highlight that it’s not just marks that count, but other skills they bring to the table. The Exchange also allows employers to talk directly to students about their business, sector and own career, enabling us to inspire the next generation.

“It’s a chance to change pupils’ pre-conceptions of what it is like to work in certain sectors, such as engineering and manufacturing, and inform them about the wide range of opportunities available.”

“With jobs on the horizon – in particular in the advanced manufacturing sector thanks to the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), which will see Sunderland and South Tyneside create more than 7000 jobs – we need to make sure young people and their parents are aware of what is going to be a rewarding and viable local career in the future.”

Angela adds: “There is a role for business, government and education providers to play in inspiring and equipping the next generation with the right skills. All three need to work together to be proactive about the future and how best to prepare.”

“South Tyneside Council is mindful of this and while it has been very successful in attracting new business, it isn’t just stopping there; projects such as this are ensuring businesses have the skills they need in order to flourish.”

Zenith People works closely with education providers, from schools to universities, alongside local businesses to develop the skilled candidates needed to help firms grow and students to realise their career ambitions in the North East.

The firm is passionate about commercial and education sectors working together in the local area and wider North East, to ensure the region has a pipeline of skilled talent.

Scott McGowan, technical and IT manager at Zenith People, explains: “The North East IT sector is a key example of the skills shortage within the region. There are many organisations, large and small, who lack the skills needed in key technical areas.

“As we have two sides to the business, recruitment and training, we have a 360 degree view of the labour market. This enables us to look at multiple options for employers; not only looking for skilled candidates but for graduates and apprenticeships we can help to up-skill.”

Scott adds: “We also understand the growing importance of skills within the local manufacturing and engineering sector. With the investment in South Tyneside, the need for skills has never been greater.

“We’re working closely with education providers and employers to re-invent their mind-set to make the most of the opportunity that’s there; to inspire and up-skill the next generation. If we continue to go around in circles, not working collaboratively to address the skills shortage, nothing will change.”



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