‘North must be the beating heart of post-Brexit Britain’

Jeremy Middleton in Alnwick.
Jeremy Middleton in Alnwick.

Work experience for children as young as 11 and maths and technology scholarships are among proposals to make the north ‘the beating heart’ of post-Brexit Britain.

A Policy North report concludes that outside the region’s major cities, EU membership has seriously damaged wages, skills and economic growth and warns that new jobs will only go to British workers if a concerted effort is made to revolutionise vocational training.

The report, written by leading business figures from the North East, says that after Brexit, Britain will not be able to carry on plugging its skills gap with cheap immigrant labour from the EU and must change course dramatically to combat levels of youth unemployment running at 20 per cent in the region.

Lead author Jeremy Middleton, co-founder of the FTSE 250 firm Homeserve Plc, said that Brexit presented the Government with a unique opportunity to ensure the North was at the ‘beating heart of tomorrow’s global Britain’.

He added: “We need to ensure Brexit transforms the economy of the north and can be the spur to ensuring that we transform the job prospects and living standards of the next generation of workers. It is a disgrace that for decades in this part of the country, the number of 16 to 24-year-olds without a job, education or training has remained well above the average. We need a full overhaul of the skills agenda.”

The report calls for a revolution in work experience so that every young person begins preparing for the world of work by the age of 11.

It also recommends establishing a powerful new institute to drive forward the link between business and skills.

The institute would have a clear focus on encouraging and assisting the private sector on investing in education to promote economic growth.

Responsibilities would include developing innovative activities in the education and skills sector alongside helping to spread best practice across the UK and beyond.

Plus, it calls for an enterprise adviser in every secondary school who would advise pupils about their career prospects, warning that just 15 per cent of 19 to 24-year-olds have engaged with employers on three or more occasions.

Read the report at http://tinyurl.com/lfugbyy