Leaders from across the region gathered to debate how education and employers must work together to provide a workforce fit for the future.
A stellar line-up of speakers led by Neil Carmichael, the former Chair of the Education Select Committee, tackled how the employment landscape must change at the first City College Plymouth Employment Conference.
The event came at a crucial time for Plymouth as it prepares for an unprecedented level of investment and an expected boom in population to beyond 300,000 people.
How that population is prepared for employment in a diverse economy is a unique challenge for education providers in taking the region from ‘good to great’.
The former MP, Mr Carmichael, began by explaining how his vast experience has taught him that employers must invest in their people through education if they and their employees are to prosper.
He told a packed room at the College’s PL1 training restaurant: “Productivity is critical to economic success – and that is tied into innovation and creativity. We need to put the spotlight on further education colleges to achieve this.
“Firms must have a relationship with education to support their onward travel – and the people who work for them.
“We must equip people with the skills and energy to succeed and the employers and the College are the ones to do this.”
College Chief Executive and Principal, Jackie Grubb, explained her vision for an ‘Ocean City College’ that was well adapted to the City’s needs.
She said: “We are working very hard on the College’s strategic direction and asking ourselves the question ‘what will the College look like in ten years?’
“It is essential to work with stakeholders, employers, students, staff and governors to answer that question and to make sure we are aligned to the opportunities available in Plymouth.”
Jackie encouraged employers to give their feedback on what the College’s curriculum should look like so it is best positioned to serve their interests. She also launched the College’s new specialist website for business engagement – cityplymbiz.co.uk.
Other speakers included Steve Cardew from the City’s Employment and Skills Board, Paul James of Delt Shared Services and Peter Kelly, the creator of the innovative new Imployable recruitment app.
Mr Kelly spoke passionately about the need for employers to give more chances to the disadvantaged in society and creating stronger links with veterans of the Armed Forces.
He said: “We believe that everyone should have access to a fulfilling career – it’s not just about having a job.
“Creating opportunities in disadvantaged areas starts by telling people that you believe in them. We must see potential in people; it’s not enough for one firm to do this, it must be a cultural change.”
A question and answer session with the panel of speakers led by higher education students from City College Plymouth finished the event, touching on subjects such as volunteering, promoting Apprenticeships and the future direction of the College.
For more information visit the College’s new business engagement website –cityplymbiz.co.uk – which includes news and information about how businesses and organisations can be supported by the College.