Young People and the Energy Sector

  • Young People and the Energy Sector
Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

With a recognized aging workforce within the energy sector there is no doubt that Norfolk’s young people are an important workforce for the future.  However currently there is a complete lack of coordination relating to how we can get our young people work- ready.

 The Coalition Government swept away Business/Education groups and all their funding; abolished Connexions which although did need reforming at least was a point of contact for schools and businesses and has changed the statutory duty for schools relating to careers.  Careers Education which was a statutory duty is no longer a priority and although most schools do give some time to it the quality is variable; Careers Guidance which is independent one2one advice is now a statutory duty but with no funding attached. Not a positive picture.

What always happens when there is a gap in the market is that commercial suppliers move in to fill the gap. Although many of them have great products, schools find it a real challenge to understand what is available overall and what would be right for them.  There is a danger they will buy a product to tick the Government’s boxes.

Is the message really getting through to our young people and their parents that on their door step there are and will be a vast number and types of jobs within the energy sector and so it an exciting career choice.  The answer is probably No.  The confusion of places to get information and the types of opportunities available is far from clear. The schools structures are changing and they no longer work as closely together as they have done in the past.

Norfolk Chamber has identified 2013 as the year to increase the potential of our young people. We are in the advantageous position of having within our Chamber network, schools, colleges, local authorities and of course businesses and have started to challenge the current situation. A recent meeting in GY between the GYBC cabinet, GY Chamber Council. GY College and GY schools identified that there were opportunities within the curriculum timetable to introduce improved careers information and the Chamber has challenged the GY School Heads to work together so the business community have a single group to work with.

Apprenticeships have improved considerably and many energy sector companies are showing real best practice but for many is it confusing and time consuming. Norfolk Chamber has secured funding from the Skills Funding Agency to set up a Chamber Apprenticeship Broker Service to help local businesses employ 40 apprenticeships aged between 16 -18, by the end of October 2013.

There are a number of different apprenticeship schemes now operating in Norfolk. The role of the Chamber will be to lend a helping hand to businesses to help them identify the most appropriate scheme and providers to meet their needs and get more young people into jobs. Chris Perry at the Chamber is the key contact on 01603 729707

The business community understands its responsibility to its young people and many local businesses are giving time and resource to explain the opportunities available to them. However a more coordinated approach needs to be taken across the Board and the Chamber and its embers will be at the forefront of making this happen. 

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