New Chamber president determined to help region's youth follow career goals - The Leamington Observer

New Chamber president determined to help region's youth follow career goals

Leamington Editorial 9th Dec, 2023   0

THE NEW president of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce says he plans to use the role to help fix the “disconnect” preventing young people in the region accessing meaningful employment opportunities when they leave their chosen education route.

Steve Harcourt, who works for West Midlands accountancy firm Prime Accountants Group, says there is a struggle to link up employers and young people exiting education, particularly in the manufacturing and engineering sectors.

He plans to use his role to improve careers advice for young people across the region, including whether university is the right path to take.

Steve, who formally took up the presidency this week, takes over in the role from outgoing president Tom Mongan.

He said: “Getting the movement of young people into the working world is something I really want to push through. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect at present, with manufacturing and engineering firms particularly struggling.

“If training providers don’t get the funding, then they struggle, whether that’s construction, engineering or manufacturing. You’re struggling as a training provider to access apprenticeship funding, which drives that intake growth.

“However, it’s an issue across the board and has been an issue for a while. There’s obviously a big push for people to go to university, but not everyone wants to do that and it’s not right for everyone.

“For young people who don’t want to go, it’s a lot harder to get into the workplace. I want to improve the careers advice they receive, and even start it earlier.”

Steve said raising awareness of the lack of funding in certain sectors will be another key issue for his presidency, along with exploring partnerships with major local employers such as Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

“Hearing from our members and talking to trainers, at the moment there isn’t a lot of funding around to develop young people. For example, in IT, it’s really hard to find people to develop those skills – IT lecturers are a rare breed, because in industry they can earn up to five times as much as colleges can pay them.

“It’s vitally important because kids leaving education now are the future of local economy, so we need to make sure there are jobs for them, and they are being trained in a way that will help local businesses.”

Summing up his ambitions for the role, Steve added: “I want to focus on three key actions – excellent careers advice at every school; access to job and learning opportunities for all regardless of backgrounds and increasing the employer voice at every level of education.”

Away from his Chamber role, Steve works at Prime, which has offices in Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull. He joined the firm in 2007 and became a director in 2017.

Steve has extensive experience of all aspects of accounting, with particular expertise in the engineering and construction sector.

Corin Crane, chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are incredibly proud to have Steve take over as our new president and chair of the board.

“Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber has been supporting businesses and lobbying on key economic issues for over 120 years through the ups and downs of economies, world wars, pandemics, world leading innovations and cultural showcases.

“Steve is taking over at an exciting time as our local economy prepares for its latest transformation as it moves towards a net zero, digital world and we are looking forward in supporting him to use this high-profile role to champion the brilliant young people of this great region.”


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