Justine Greening has underlined the opportunity for local businesses to deliver the levelling-up agenda through developing the Humber’s skills capabilities in partnership with education providers as the region recovers from the impact of Covid-19.
Ms Greening, who was education secretary between 2016 and 2018, founded the Social Mobility Pledge; a coalition of 550 businesses globally employing more than five million people, as well as more than 50 universities representing almost two million students. It encourages organisations to being a force for good by putting social mobility at the heart of their purpose.
Speaking as part of the Marketing Humber event, Pathways to Success, the Humber’s Vision for Skills During Economic Recovery, Ms Greening said: “With the new investment happening in Humber’s green economy alongside existing longstanding businesses in the region, there’s a real opportunity to now bring local businesses, like Drax, Sewell Group and many others together with local education providers like the University of Hull and a wider community in a collective aim of making sure Humber’s local talent has the skills to take advantage of the new opportunities locally. It’s also how we can underpin more investment in the region in the future.
“In practice that’s how levelling up will happen and it’s never been more important given the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had.”
The Marketing Humber event, which was part of Skills Humber 2021, took place on April 21. It focused on how education establishments and businesses can help Britain build back better and explore where we are now in terms of ‘levelling up the opportunities’ in the North.
Ms Greening added: “I know there are excellent businesses and inspirational leaders in the Humber who are all working to improve social mobility – I had chance to meet many of them before the pandemic, and it was a pleasure working with Paul Sewell and all the team at Sewell Group who are part of the Social Mobility Pledge movement I founded which encourages businesses to spread their opportunities ever more widely.”
The event also saw updates from the University of Hull and Hull College, and a youth panel with Marketing Humber’s Young Talent Network, where young professionals explored their paths to success.
Anja Hazebroek, director of student recruitment and marketing at the University of Hull, reflected on the impact of Covid-19 and what is emerging in the skills, attainment, and progression of students in 2021 having experienced a year of turmoil and disruption: “As the Humber region looks to recover, rebuild and grow after the Covid-19 pandemic, the role of the University of Hull in creating a skilled workforce and talent pipeline has never been more important.
“Students have sadly experienced the same disruption that we all have faced over the last 12 months or so, but despite the challenges, we believe the future is bright and great opportunities exist in the Humber.
“The region is home to some of the world’s biggest companies in the medical, pharmaceutical and chemicals industries, and the offshore wind and renewable energy sector continues to thrive and prosper. On top of this, a growth in the digital and creative industries also offers students with a chance to be involved in the skills and needs of the future.
“The university will continue to engage with stakeholders and businesses across the Humber region, as it looks to play a leading role in the post-Covid landscape.”
Hull College revealed their new vision to provide seamless level 2-7 education facilities within the city in collaboration with key stakeholders, building the technicians of the future, providing end-to-end capability to retain talent in the region.
Lowell Williams, interim principal and CEO at Hull College, said: “We have had a lot of looking internally at what we need to do, we need to be more technical and way closer to the skills and jobs that are needed right now with specialist skills training. We have a dual mandate of developing specialist job-based skills and improving baseline skills.
“Our curriculum in three years will not look the same and will be done collaboratively to have a joined-up offer around learning. We are open to discussions around partnerships with nay organisation who may like to work with us.”
Speaking as part of the Youth Panel, Sophie Lee, consultant at Citycare and Shared Agenda, said: “I was inspired to come back to the Humber, speaking to others at university, it made me realise what a great place it is to live and work, with great affordability.
“The Humber is developing, and I had the opportunity to shape my roll at the company. The Humber is full of companies that hire based on cultural fit and coachability rather than filtering candidates based purely on their knowledge base, which I believe sets it apart.”