Local businesses, education providers and stakeholders joined EDGE partners at a Westminster reception hosted by Huntingdonshire MP Jonathan Djanogly (on 9 November 2015) to celebrate the official launch of its one-stop-shop to promote and deliver industry-led training and development to support the future economic growth of the region.
EDGE: Sharper Skills for Enterprise (EDGE) evolved from the Alconbury Enterprise Zone Skills Group, which was set up with local public and private sector partners to support the creation of over 8,000 potential jobs from the delivery and development of Alconbury Weald.
Working with local businesses, training providers, jobseekers and schools, EDGE is helping to improve the transition between education and industry, address core skills gaps, improve employer engagement in skills development and ensure relevant and effective training.
Jonathan Djanogly MP said: "EDGE is providing an innovative and forward-thinking service that seeks to address recruitment of staff with appropriate skills sets, one of the barriers to growth most commonly cited by Huntingdonshire businesses. EDGE exemplifies the benefits that public-private sector collaboration can bring. By including the developers of Alconbury Weald, Urban&Civic, the EDGE partnership has created a model that has longevity and isn’t reliant on short-term funding schemes: Alconbury’s development will be 25 years in the making."
Operating from its town centre premises in Huntingdon, as well as from partner locations, the EDGE service provides a myriad of support including:
- identifying and supporting the recruitment needs of businesses today, through acting as a one-stop-shop across public sector and private sector providers – from Jobcentre Plus and local colleges through to specialist recruitment agencies
- supporting their needs in the future: developing relevant training, including upskilling, work experience, local work placements and apprenticeship schemes, and working with schools to prepare the next generation of the local workforce
- raising economic awareness of students and providing information on potential career opportunities in growth sectors (and the necessary qualifications/training required)
- working with education providers to ensure young people leave school with basic ‘work-ready’ skills, so future employers have confidence in their ability to enter the workplace
- providing practical support for jobseekers, such as support with CV writing and job applications, interview practice and careers advice
- facilitating joint events, business seminars and careers fairs.
Cllr Jason Ablewhite, Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "EDGE is providing a fantastic, innovative service; breaking down traditional silos and bringing strategic partners together with businesses to produce tangible results. In Huntingdonshire, we don’t just talk – we deliver!"
Susanne Stent, Principal and CEO of Huntingdonshire Regional College, said: "I would like us to take this opportunity to reflect and celebrate the early achievements of the EDGE partnership as we reaffirm our commitment and look forward to working together to deliver economic growth for the local area."
The EDGE partnership has already achieved a number of early successes, including:
- developing bespoke apprenticeship schemes with clusters of local SMEs
- recruitment of long-term unemployed people by contractors at Alconbury Weald
- groundworks/grassroots projects providing training, education and work experience in deprived communities
- working with local schools to ensure regular business engagement on curriculum and careers advice and
- organising the annual Huntingdonshire careers fair.
Tim Leathes, from Urban&Civic, said: "We always wanted to ensure that the development of Alconbury Weald – both the Enterprise Zone and the wider residential development – maximised the opportunity for economic growth locally. Through EDGE, we have worked with partners to devise a scheme that works for both businesses looking to relocate to the site, and to help local people and businesses to benefit from the potential that this multi-million pound investment brings to the area. That investment is just a part of the dynamic growth and ambition across this area, and it is good to see all the positivity of partners and businesses coming together to make this happen."