23 March 2016

Loughborough College has announced it has received a major funding boost of £100,000 to help thousands of young people across the East Midlands region.

The grant comes from a major investment fund created by The Careers & Enterprise Company and has been awarded to Bridge to Work, led by the college, which links employers, schools and the community.

The initiative provides support and training to create a work-ready ‘talent pipeline’ for a huge and growing number of employers in the East Midlands, and won Loughborough College a prestigious national further education ‘Oscar’.

A rigorous selection process sees Loughborough College and Bridge to Work named as a winning beneficiary for demonstrating “a track record of success” and for having “the ability to scale up and do more”.

Loughborough College's Lead Job Coach Emma Pattison said:

“We are thrilled to have been awarded £100,000 from the Careers & Enterprise Company Investment Fund. This will enable Bridge to Work to grow significantly, benefiting 7000 young people from all over North West Leicestershire needing help into employment over the next 18 months.

“We are excited to be talking to organisations about sharing our expertise and expanding the reach of the initiative. Bridge to Work is designed to help young people improve skills for the workplace, confidence in the job market and promote and find opportunities for work experience, apprenticeships and careers.

“Working with local schools, colleges, Job Centre referrals and self-referrals, together with employers and alternative providers, we are identifying young people in need and delivering targeted support.

“This addresses the skills shortages highlighted by industry and helps young people make informed decisions about training and employment, raising their aspirations and ensuring they reach their potential.

“When a school or college student is told there are jobs out there and what they need to do to be successful, it can be really inspiring for them.  For the employers, joining us to help create their own ‘talent pipeline’ can only benefit their company and their industry.”

Bridge to Work already works with more than 30 employers, including M&S, Boots, 3M, The National Space Centre, Barratt Homes, Caterpillar, DHL, NHS, Lloyds Bank, RBS, Dalycom, Imago and Lime Tree Day Nurseries and among a range of innovations is a regular digital portal service connecting students in the region and a host of employers from a diversity of sectors.

Education Secretary and Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan has backed Bridge to Work since it began in 2012. She said:

“Many employers are keen to recruit young people as soon as they finish their education so they can train, develop and harness talent and potential from the word go. Yet they are concerned that many students lack work-place skills and experience.

“The excellent Bridge to Work scheme from Loughborough College, its partner schools and employers makes sure young people have the information and training experiences they need to meet this gap.”

The investment fund is part of a national Careers & Enterprise Company scheme to help prepare nearly a quarter of a million 11-18 year olds across England for the world of work. According to research, increasing the number of encounters young people have with employers while in education dramatically reduces their chances of becoming Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET) and increases future salary by on average 18%.

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said:

“We are delighted to award Loughborough College and Bridge to Work with funding to continue its amazing work.

“There are a huge number of extraordinary organisations working across the country to connect business to schools and colleges, creating encounters that inspire and inform young people about the future.

“We are pleased The Careers & Enterprise Company Investment Fund will support a set of those organisations to reach nearly 250,000 further young people, especially in ‘Cold Spot’ areas of greatest need. We look forward to working with Loughborough College and Bridge to Work and seeing the impact it continues to have on the young people it works with.”

Less than half of schools in England – currently only 40% - offer employer engagement to young people, with provision for careers support varying dramatically across the country.

The £5 million fund administered by The Careers & Enterprise Company has secured matched funding which will mean, in total, £9.5 million will be distributed to 33 winning organisations across England.