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Diploma Employer Champions Network

by Guest Blogger 23. September 2009 12:46


Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and the East Midlands are all close to my heart as I've spent almost 20 years with Toyota based in the Midlands and many years in manufacturing before that. This experience has left me convinced that we can do more to excite and educate young people about engineering and other STEM careers.  

I am not alone in believing we need to improve how we prepare young people for the world of work. CBI research shows that 16% of employers are dissatisfied with graduates' business awareness and 33% are dissatisfied with school leavers' business experience. Plus 24% of employers are dissatisfied with school leavers' key skills such as communication, team working and problem solving.   

This is why I set up the Diploma Employer Champions Network. Now, over 150 employers from organisations of all sizes, in the public, private and third sector, all believe that the new 14-19 Diplomas, in subjects like Engineering, IT, Manufacturing and Product Design, Science, Retail Business and Environmental & Land-based Studies, are taking mainstream education in an exciting direction. Not only do they give young people a career headstart, they help answer the needs of employers by providing young people with a more rounded education. 

Designed by employers for business needs, encouraging a broad understanding of industry from the age of 14, filled with practical mathematics, project-based skills and work-related learning, the new 14-19 Diploma is bringing learning to life by showing the relevance of what's taught in classrooms to the world of work. 

We have a good tradition of cutting edge engineering in this country, our infrastructure and ability to manage and innovate mean that manufacturing and science should be at the centre of a new post-recession economy. There is a big opportunity for young people who choose STEM subjects, especially now as our engineering workforce is aging. Sector skills council Semta estimates that there is an annual requirement for some 38,000 new recruits into UK engineering each year to replace those retiring. Employers, like me, welcome the new Diploma as an opportunity to excite young people about engineering and other key industries, and continue to develop our strong position in this sector. 

As a Network, we aim to raise awareness of these new qualifications. Members of our Network are available to speak at events about the Diploma, and we always welcome new employer members who feel, as we do, that this is a change to be embraced and supported. As employers we need to take this opportunity to invest in young people who will be our workforce of the future. 

You can learn more about Diplomas or the Champions Network at, or you can contact the team via [email protected] if you know someone who might want to join the Network, if you're keen to explore having a Diploma Employer Champion speak at an event or simply to find out more about it.

Guest Blogger: Sir Alan Jones, SEMTA

Hear more from Sir Alan Jones at the forthcoming Forum Event - 

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The views expressed in this Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the East Midlands STEM Partnership, its partners or funders, including East Midlands Development Agency.


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