Education charity chief calls for council rethink

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THE chief executive of a charity which links schools and colleges with businesses has urged councillors not to double up on their work.

Today, a report in front of Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet will recommend local authority schools appoint business mentors to forge links.

It also recommends the council’s education department should organise events to bring schools and businesses together.

Cath Longhurst, chief executive of Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Education Business Partnership, based in Northarbour, has now written to council leader Donna Jones outlining the work it does.

She says a small amount of investment from the council could add to its reach and the thousands of volunteer hours spent in schools in the area each year and would avoid doubling up on their work.

She said: ‘I agree with the principle that we need to get businesses and schools working together. That is absolutely something that we are trying to do to make sure young people get an understanding about work and the labour market. That means they know how to prepare for an interview, they know how to present themselves and what skills an employer wants.

‘My concern when I read the report was the fact that the council is suggesting that their own staff put these events together to link education with business. We are already doing what the council is proposing to do itself. There is no question there needs to be more done.’

Between August 2013 and July 2014, the partnership worked with more than 15,000 young people across Portsmouth and south east Hampshire.

Business volunteers contributed 53,500 hours to working with young people, valued at more than £1m.

Councillor Matthew Winnington, who chaired the council’s economic development, culture and leisure scrutiny panel, which wrote the report, said: ‘We are not trying to tread on the toes of the people who work with schools and businesses. The onus needs to be on someone on the governing body who can take responsibility.

‘At the moment in some schools, there is no engagement between governing bodies and businesses.’