Upskilling the young for sustainable future

The careers event organised by Pathfinder Northeast at the Duchess's Community High School earlier this year. Picture by Jane Coltman
The careers event organised by Pathfinder Northeast at the Duchess's Community High School earlier this year. Picture by Jane Coltman

Ensuring the area has a skilled local workforce to support our communities in the future is the goal of a new project being launched in Northumberland.

At last Thursday night’s meeting of Alnwick Town Council, members heard about Project Upskill Northumberland, a joint venture by Gill Barrett, of Pathfinder North East, and Tracey Young, from Stars Learning Centre, in Wooler.

As previously reported by the Gazette, Pathfinder North East is providing careers advice at the Duchess’s Community High School while Stars Learning Centre brings expertise from the educational side to add to the business acumen.

It aims to tackle two inter-linked problems in ensuring that young people have the necessary skills and can make informed career choices when they leave education, which in turn helps to ensure communities with an ageing skilled workforce can continue to thrive.

This is even more crucial in rural areas, not just because small, remote communities will have more of a struggle to survive, but because our rural location can make securing further skills challenging, simply through the distances needed to travel to training in the likes of Ashington or Newcastle.

The programme is therefore looking to partner with businesses to engage young people in the skills they need, so that they can become employable and ready to work.

A key aspect of this would be day-in-the-life vocational experiences to give them a real impression of what the working world is like.

Tracey said: “Young people are not having a worthwhile experience in terms of work experience.”

Gill added: “It’s hard to get a meaningful experience.”

Business partners in the programme would also work to identify current and future skill needs so priority areas can be focused on, engage with young people via the likes of mock interviews and student forums, and providing a business mentor.