Coastal West Sussex Partnership has recently commissioned a paper to consider how to raise the profile of enterprise education within local schools, drawing on statutory levers, quality marks and examples of successful activities from elsewhere.

Enterprise education is already actively delivered within secondary schools, but no standard framework exists for a co-ordinated approach currently its profile appears to be low as its impact is not altogether clear.  The Coast to Capital LEP produced a guide for Enterprise Education, but it is not clear how extensively or effectively this is used. National Frameworks, such as Young Enterprise and Business in the Community are used locally, but they are considered by some schools to be costly and to benefit only a small number of students.

The paper takes its lead from Lord Young’s report, ‘Enterprise for All’ which was issued in June to influence governments thinking. Lord Young, adviser to the Prime Minister on small business and enterprise, sees enterprise as “an attitude and set of skills that are vital to today’s growing global economy”. His report is about motivating young people to learn and excel in their education and to see the relevance of their studies.

With the job market rapidly changing and the number of small businesses and self start-ups is on the rise, it is essential that young people are taught real business skills and make links with local employers. The Enterprise for All report details ways schools, Further Education and Higher Education can encourage young people to ‘learn and excel in their education and equip them with the confidence to develop a career and vocational interests‘. It makes a set of recommendations which include developing an ‘Enterprise Passport’ for young people to record and demonstrate their enterprise learning and work experience throughout their education to give employers an insight into the person’s skills outside of their academic qualifications.

The report, which will be presented in December, looks at how schools can engage and how inspiration about enterprise should begin at an early age when children are open to ideas and influences which will shape their futures. Then how the Further Education (FE) sector can enable young people to develop the skills they need to progress into the world of work or set up their own business.

Case Study

Within the Coast West Sussex area there are encouraging examples of best practice taking place that support the CWS Partnership paper and Lord Young’s recommendations on enterprise education.  One such example is the apprenticeship programme offered by URT, a manufacturer of composite parts and structures based at Heath Place, Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

The URT Group runs an industry-leading apprenticeship programme which currently has nine apprentices undergoing training. It aims to take on four apprentices each year and recruits predominantly from schools and colleges in the vicinity of its manufacturing facility.  The company works closely with STEM Sussex to encourage young people to actively engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics and this year instigated a new recruitment initiative, attending careers events at local schools to actively promote engineering to school leavers.

Their three-year programme offers apprentices a structured introduction to manufacturing and the skill sets required allows them to select their own specialisation in one of several business areas. Throughout the programme, apprentices attend Chichester College to work towards a Level 2 NVQ in Mechanical Engineering, with the option to progress to Level 3 NVQ in their third year.

Headed by Technical Director Kevin Emmett, the programme is among the leading apprenticeship schemes in the UK’s composites industry. Kevin explains: “Our emphasis is both to improve our current staff, through a process of continual training and development, and to offer an industry-leading apprenticeship programme to train the next generation of composites engineers. Over the past seven years the programme has been very successful and we continue to see apprentices as essential to the future of the business and the composites industry as a whole.”

Since the start of the scheme in 2007, seven apprentices have completed their training with URT and have gone on to hold successful positions within the company.