Young people and staff from Keighley College spoke of their hopes and vision for the future during a day-long visit from Dame Julia Cleverdon.
Members of the council, education organisations such as the Department for Education and the National Literacy Trust, as well as employers that include Gesipa and Airedale Springs, attended the luncheon to discuss key issues affecting the community and the positive work they are doing to promote literacy and apprenticeships, whilst raising awareness of STEM subjects for young girls.
Principal Heather Whitehead, said: “The students are at the heart of what we do and Dame Julia Cleverdon’s visit is a testament to the work that we are currently doing to offer an inclusive and accessible environment where students receive the support they need to thrive.
“The college’s wider objectives include promoting innovation. Working in partnership with the local council, key employers and our community, we endeavour to provide students with the skills they need to succeed,” she added.
Dame Julia, who sits on the Enterprise and Careers Company, a new initiative by the government to try and understand what can be done to raise the employability pathways for young people, said she wanted to find out and understand the great things that are happening in Bradford and surrounding areas.
“I have always been interested in what happens to young people in some of the most important communities and cities across Britain.
“I am very keen to hear from them and to understand what they think is working and what we can implement to make their vocational, academic or apprenticeship journey worthwhile,” she added.
The afternoon consisted of a tour around the college including a visit to the Textile Academy and Engineering department where Dame Julia spoke to students at length, praised the wonderful work they are doing and encouraged them to continue pursuing their career goals.
As Vice President of Business in the Community and former Special Adviser to The Prince’s Charities where she concentrated on responsible business practice and connecting disadvantaged communities, she continues to promote collaboration among senior leaders from business, government, education and community organisations to build a more robust civil society.
Mrs Cleverdon also highlighted the National Literacy Service, which she chairs, and the National Citizen Service (NCS). She added that a lot of work has been done so far in engaging and promoting literacy to the whole community but that more work needed to be done.
Appointed to the NCS in 2018 for a two-year term, Dame Julia spoke of the work that the government-backed programme is doing and its innovation and real concern to do things to help the wider public.
13% of 16 year old students in Bradford went through the National Citizen Service last year and with the support of its social action element, it continues to empower young people to make a difference in their communities and to foster a sense of social responsibility for the future.
This year’s summer programme starts on 24 June 2019 and will host a series of business workshops, volunteering and fundraising programmes. Approximately 500,000 teenagers have taken part in the scheme since 2011.