Investing in skills: the start of our new programme with the GCP - Form the Future CIC

Investing in skills: the start of our new programme with the GCP

Today marks the start of our new programme with the Greater Cambridge Partnership – building on the success of the last four years. Our CEO, Anne Bailey, explains what the next stage of the programme will look like.

The pandemic has disrupted so many aspects of our lives, not least the way we work. Some local businesses have been devastated – language schools, high street shops, and businesses relying on the visitor economy – leading to job losses. Others have adapted, converting from full-service restaurants to take out only. Still others have grown, as demand for their products and services have soared, whether that’s life sciences and pharmaceuticals, led by AstraZeneca, or healthcare on the Cambridge BioMedical Campus.

We know that young people have been badly affected during the pandemic as their part-time jobs disappeared or they’ve struggled with online learning and the challenges of living in isolation from their peers.

As we plan for economic recovery it’s essential that we give people hope for the future and help them work towards a career where they can thrive.

The next four years

This is why we are so grateful to be chosen to deliver the Greater Cambridge Partnership Apprenticeships and Skills service for another four years. We’ve worked with GCP since the start of the Greater Cambridge City Deal in 2015 and it’s good to know that they’re putting their faith in us yet again.

Investing in skills and career support needs to be at the heart of any economic recovery programme – and there are different ways of doing it. At one level there’s the ‘work-first’ approach often used in welfare-to-work programmes which aims to get claimants into work, any work, as quickly as possible, with the belief that learning will happen on the job.

The motivation is usually more stick than carrot in the form of benefit sanctions. Then there’s the ‘human capital development’ approach where the goal is that benefit claimants acquire the vocational skills in demand from employers or develop employability skills before starting their job search.

While we are more supportive of this approach it still fails to recognise the reality for many unemployed people. Barriers to work can be complex and include issues like lack of confidence, health, caring responsibilities, lack of access to transport or suitable local employment. An effective support programme needs to work with people’s real issues as well as their strengths, preferences and values, to achieve longer term positive outcomes for all. That’s the approach we’ll be taking.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with employers and the many successful employer networks in our region to scope the skills they need in their businesses and work together to create opportunities for job seekers or for staff to retrain.

We also want to work with educators – from primary school onwards – to help inform the skills development and the career choices for young people as they prepare to enter the workplace. This means working with training providers who support apprenticeship programmes but also those who support adults to gain skills at all ages as well as employers own training centres.

We have always valued our close relationship with schools and we are delighted that we can continue to work in partnership with schools to deliver careers education, information, advice and guidance – CEIAG for short – that reflects the opportunities available across our region.

Good careers guidance at the right time can be life-changing – and everyone deserves this. It’s even more important if your personal circumstances put you at a disadvantage to others: we want every young person to get the support and encouragement that they need to succeed.

No ones background should determine their future. We will make sure students get access to a comprehensive careers programme, where they can learn about themselves and a wide range of career opportunities, learn how to make informed decisions and how to navigate their own career, all delivered in an age-appropriate format, starting from primary school and continuing until they leave.

What makes Form the Future unique is that we bring educators and employers together to develop a talent pipeline for the growing companies in the region. One goal of this new GCP contract is to work with educators and employers to create a Cambridge Curriculum – highlighting what students should know and be able to do by the time they leave school. Contact us if you’d like to be involved.

Other features of the new programme include:
  • Supporting employers to access government incentives and make sense of apprenticeships, traineeships, industry placements and T-levels, as well as lifelong learning for employees who need to retrain
  • An annual careers conference for school leaders
  • Career guidance for students qualifying for pupil premium and/or those with EHCP, care leavers and other additional needs.
  • A primary school careers fair at Cambridge Regional College
  • Extension of Cambridge LaunchPad into all primary schools in Greater Cambridge
  • Employability roadshow with pop-up shops for jobseekers looking for support
  • Career guidance and employability skills workshops for jobseekers and career changers

Register to volunteer