Robin Walker, Worcester’s MP has welcomed the announcement of the British Chamber of Commerce’s (BCC) first Business and Education Summit taking place in London today.


The summit comes as the BCC publishes findings from a nationwide survey of over 3,500 businesses and educators highlighting the significant benefits of partnerships between schools and businesses, and the MP welcomed the fact that Worcester of is ahead of the curve with the county’s Connecting Schools and Businesses Programme going from strength to strength.


The report found that the vast majority of educational establishments (88%) partnering with businesses said the most important benefit was improved outcomes for their pupils.


The education leaders surveyed also stated that employer engagement has a clear benefit for their pupils, including: greater awareness of the soft skills that businesses value (74%); increased motivation in lessons (73%); better careers information (52%); and lessons which are more relevant and connected to the world of work (46%).


Business leaders reported that the main reasons for partnering with a school were to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility (43%), to identify future employees (38%), and to increase awareness of different jobs and career paths (35%).


However, both business and education leaders reported a number of barriers preventing them from building lasting and effective partnerships. For businesses and educators respectively, this included staff time (53% / 64%), and administrative burdens (36% / 41%). Businesses also cited cost as a factor (38%) while some educators identified a lack of interest from business (42%).


The survey’s findings are particularly timely for Worcester given the announcement in August of this year that Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) secured £100,000 in funding for enterprise education in schools as part of the government’s Careers & Enterprise Company’s first wave of allocated funding designed to inspire young people to make the link between their education and their future careers.


The announcement is the culmination of a busy latter half of the year for the Worcester MP who has been a vocal supporter of skills and apprenticeships since his time on the Business Innovation & Skills Select Committee. His current role as PPS to the Education Secretary who also leads on Women & Equalities allows Robin to stay closely involved with apprenticeships and to see first hand the work that Government is doing on the STEM agenda and improving careers advice.


In October the MP hosted a business lunch in the House of Commons together with Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce to discuss the effect of the skills shortage in the county and opportunities to support work experience with representatives from local businesses, schools and colleges. A week later he chaired the discussion at the Industry and Parliament Trust dinner on Skills for Growth and Productivity in the UK and in November spoke to the Royal Warrant Holders Association on work experience and apprenticeships.


Following the announcement this morning, Robin said,


“I congratulate the British Chamber of Commerce for organising the summit and for the survey on businesses and schools. I have always believed that connecting schools and businesses is vital to improve careers and I am pleased that we are seeing a call for strategies nationally of the sort that we in Worcester have been delivering for many years. I remember welcoming Matt Hancock as Skills Minister to the launch of the Connecting Schools and Businesses portal at New Road and I am pleased to see the way this is progressing.”