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Enterprise advisors should be sent in to schools, says former Tory cabinet member

By Ben_Falconer  |  Posted: July 04, 2014

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ENTERPRISE advisors should be appointed to boost young people's interest in manufacturing, a Tory former cabinet minister has said.

Lord Young of Graffham said the aim would be to provide greater motivation for school pupils and encourage them to see the relevance of what they were taught.

County education and business leaders welcomed the idea but much is already being done in Gloucestershire’s schools to get youngsters on the right track.

He told peers the advisers could encourage young people to get the basic skills they needed to go into manufacturing work.

"Because manufacturing today doesn't consist of people with screwdrivers but people who can operate computer programmes and look at the way that robots work," he said.

Phillip Rush, headteacher of St Peter’s RC High School in Tuffley, Gloucester, said much is already done to prepare children for work but it can always do more.

“We do a lot of careers work and as well as a careers advisor we have other careers specialists coming in to the school,” he said. “We push STEM subjects and entrepreneurship is also part of the citizenship curriculum. We do a lot, but we are always striving to do more.”

Lord Young has undertaken a review of enterprise education for the Coalition Government and produced a report last week, which he said could have a "transformational" effect on education.

The former trade and industry secretary said that 30 years ago up to 30% of young people left the school system illiterate or innumerate and sometimes both.

"And I come back all these decades later and I go round the school system and I see conditions have not changed all that much," he said.

In a debate on strengthening the UK's manufacturing sector, Lord Young said he had no complaints about the curriculum although it could sometimes be "more relevant".

He said the issue was more about motivation and to address this his report recommended that every head teacher should have an enterprise adviser.

The adviser would bring in speakers to tell children as young as 12 about the relevance of what they were being taught to manufacturing work.

The speakers should not be "captains of industry" but someone who had left school a few years before and started a successful local business.

Young entrepreneur Verity Symcox, who runs Knickerbockers in Nailsworth and has another store in Cheltenham, said she would have liked more careers help when she was at school.

“As a relatively young entrepreneur, more advice at school would have been good for me,” she said.

“I did not know what to do and I think a lot of young people don’t.

“Careers advice was ‘pick a subject and study it at university’ which is fine as far as it goes but students need more than that.”

*Gloucester Citizen Editor Jenny Eastwood has been mentioned in the House of Commons by city MP Richard Graham as leading the way for equality in top jobs.

“The rise and rise of women in business is boosting growth and opportunity across the country,” he said. “We have an inspiring role model in Gloucester, in the first female editor of the Gloucester Citizen in its 138-year history, Jenny Eastwood. The chair of the Gloucestershire local enterprise partnership, Diane Savory, is one of only three female chairs of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships.”

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