LOW carbon, cyber, digital and STEM jobs are set to be some of the fastest-growing employment opportunities in Lancashire, a major careers conference heard.
More low carbon jobs per head are set to be created in Lancashire than anywhere in the country, Joseph Mount, of the Lancashire Skills Hub, told more than 150 delegates at the Lancashire Careers Hub annual conference.
Cyber jobs are also on the horizon with one of the guest speakers at the conference a representative of the National Cyber Force (NCF), a partnership between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ, which will have its new headquarters in Samlesbury from 2024.
Delegates heard more about the NCF move which is part of the creation of a ‘cyber corridor’ from Manchester to Lancaster, with Samlesbury at its centre, which will bring significant numbers of skilled cyber jobs to the area.
The NCF says its arrival will help to grow technology, digital and defence sectors, as well as encouraging partnerships between government, industry and universities in the region.
It was one of many career opportunities shared at the conference which brought together organisations working with schools and colleges across the county through the Lancashire Careers Hub, heralded nationally as an award-winning, pioneering initiative and co-funded by the Careers & Enterprise Company, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council and Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen unitary authorities.
Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education, gave a video address to those gathered at the conference held at Blackburn Rovers FC, in which he praised everyone involved in the Lancashire Careers Hub for the fantastic work being done to open the eyes of all children to a wide range of careers and opportunities.
Sara Britcliffe, MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden, also gave a video address in which she thanked everyone involved in the Lancashire Careers Hub for giving young people across Lancashire the skills they need to be prepared for these opportunities.
The Careers Hub helps link businesses and organisations with schools and colleges to inspire young people about employment opportunities across the county, and is delivered by Inspira, the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub’s delivery partner.
Peter Caney, Head of Early Careers and Skills at BAE Systems and member of the Lancashire Cornerstone Employers, said: “Working with Lancashire Careers Hub enables us to plug our requirements into a coordinated, organised network and ecosystem reaching all the schools and colleges in our locality so we can really make a difference to raise aspirations of young people. “We are trying to attract a really diverse range of talent into our business. There’s a real breadth of skills opportunities. That future talent pipeline is so important.
“We are seeing significant growth in the demand for apprentice and graduate talent from across our business, with a broad range of opportunities in engineering including software, systems and data analysts, project management, finance, business, procurement and supply chain.
“We are looking to attract inquisitive young people, creative thinkers and problem solvers who will thrive in a future digital workplace.
“There’s a real energy around the recovery from the pandemic in getting more young people into the workplace to look, see, feel those opportunities, open their minds and raise aspirations.”
Peter was among a panel of business leaders at the conference, chaired by Debbie Francis OBE, chair of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, which also included Neil Conlon (Conlon Construction), Georgia Thomas (Victrex) and Helen McVey (Pendleside Hospice).
Debbie said: “The work of the Lancashire Careers Hub is absolutely critical. There are a lot of growing businesses and opportunities here in Lancashire but it’s critical young people know what those opportunities are.
“We have got BAE Systems and we have got the National Cyber Force coming over the next few years and that’s going to mean thousands of jobs for people across Lancashire so it is important that these messages go out. Those are two very large organisations.
“But Lancashire has also got thousands of really successful other businesses. It has a really great foothold in advanced manufacturing. Businesses know what they are hoping to do in the future, they have their plans, and know what skills they are going to need and I would love to see even more businesses get involved with the Careers Hub.”
Joseph Mount, of the Lancashire Skills Hub, shared with the conference the county’s latest data. Lancashire’s employment rate is 72.3%, 2.5 per cent below the national average. It was 76.2% pre the pandemic. In total 20,000 job vacancies were advertised in Lancashire in March.
Employers are having to post three times on average to fill a job with analytical skills being one of the fastest growing skills required.
Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, Director of the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub which supports the work of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and the 15 local authorities across Lancashire, said “The Lancashire Careers Hub is really important for our economy and social mobility of our young people.
“In terms of the economy and working with our businesses it is providing a talent pipeline to support them to grow and flourish.
“It’s also about inward investment where we are attracting businesses to Lancashire who know we have a talent pool to recruit from, so bringing those new businesses in also brings new job opportunities for Lancashire residents.
“In terms of inclusion we do have varied communities across Lancashire with pockets of disadvantage so it’s really important that we raise the aspirations and raise the ambitions of our young people.
“Exposure to employers has been proven to really boost ambition, to give young people insight into the world of work, what they could be, bringing role models in and giving them a wide insight into different sectors, and different jobs and future opportunities. We are really proud of our progress in Lancashire. We are one of the highest performing areas in the country.”
The conference enables teachers to share best practice, and the hub helps employers link with every educational organisation for 11-18-year-olds across the county.
Kay Vaughan, Careers Hub Lead, for Inspira, said: “The Lancashire Careers Hub is supporting schools and colleges across Lancashire enabling more than 90,000 young people to experience encounters with employers, further and higher education and apprenticeships providers.
It is helping them to have those inspirational moments, those lightbulb moments, a nugget of information or an experience that inspires them and helps them to navigate what their next best step should be.”
Oli de Botton, CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “It is absolutely inspiring to see careers leaders, employers, people getting involved and making sure that young people have access to really brilliant, high quality careers education.
Lancashire in many ways is leading things, it’s really inspirational. It’s incredible to see where careers education is now. We have got employers stepping up, coming into schools, making the world of education and the world of business more porous to each other, more understandable.
The impact of that is to the benefit of young people as they understand their next best step and they know where they are going. It’s a really exciting time and I feel excited to hear what is going to happen next.”
For more information about Lancashire Careers Hub visit www.lancashirecareershub.co.uk