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Top Names Gather To Tackle Youth Unemployment

3 October 2013

Costain has brought together some of industry’s top names to tackle the problem of youth unemployment.

The event, called The Big Infrastructure Conversation, was held at London’s City Hall recently in conjunction with Business in the Community*, the UK’s largest business-led charity.

Students from St Augustine’s CoE High School, ambassadors from The Prince’s Trust and apprentices and trainees from various blue-chip companies met business leaders and discussed their own apprenticeship experiences and the importance of inspirational work experience.  Among the presenters on the day were Terry Morgan CBE, Chairman of Crossrail and Steve Holliday, Chief Executive of National Grid.

The students and apprentices heard, through presentations and round table discussions, about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s) skills, and why traineeships and apprenticeships are so important to the UK’s infrastructure needs.

A lack of skills has pushed youth unemployment above 1 million. According to the Department of Work and Pensions, between April and June 2013, there were 1.09 million young people not in work, education or training, roughly equivalent to 15% of people under the age of 25.

Inspiring young people to want to gain STEM skills is vital if industry wants to meet future demands, as more young people with these skills can be matched to the skills that business want and need.

For the industry leaders, there was also an opportunity to share best practice about how businesses can tackle youth unemployment and to listen to young people about their needs, hopes and ambitions for the future, particularly in relation to securing valuable career advice.

The ‘Big Conversation’ is the initiative from Business in the Community through which it engages with the business community and young people. Since 2009, over 26 Big Conversations have been delivered nationwide covering all areas of work and industry.

Business in the Community’s ambition is that everyone, particularly those with significant barriers to overcome, receives support from business, to build the skills and confidence they need to gain and sustain employment.

Investing in young people and helping the industry address the long-term skills shortage is an integral component of Costain Cares and Engineering Tomorrow, Costain’s commitment to identifying, developing and implementing innovative solutions to meet the UK’s major national infrastructure needs.

Costain Cares underpins Costain’s role as an active member of Business in the Community by supporting its goal of creating jobs and helping every young person, particularly those facing social disadvantage, to receive support from business to build a successful working life.

“Costain Cares is firmly committed to Business in the Community’s aim of supporting young people to gain a foothold in the construction industry, and we need to engage with young people as they are closer to knowing what the challenges and opportunities are going to be in the future. But promoting STEM skills isn’t just about social responsibility, it also makes good business sense as we can attract the best and brightest talent into our companies,” said Catherine Warbrick, Costain’s Director for Corporate Responsibility.

You too can join the Big Conversation by following the debate on Twitter @thebiginfraconv and at @BITC1.

*Business in the Community

Business in the Community stands for responsible business. It is a unique business movement - the largest business-led charity of its kind - committed to building resilient communities, diverse workplaces and a more sustainable future. The charity works locally, nationally and internationally with its members to transform businesses and transform communities. It believes that responsible leadership is the ability to balance doing both.
BITC asks its members to work with it on specific campaigns that impact in the workplace, marketplace and community.  It offers a range of services that challenge, support and inspire members and help transform their businesses.  Business in the Community (BITC) www.bitc.org.uk