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UEL champions the local workforce

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Fit for the Future: Consortium aims to provide skills for local London

By Lee Pinkerton

The University of East London (UEL) is playing its part in addressing the skills shortage in east London. Earlier this month, the University hosted a number of organisations who came together to promote the employment prospects of young people in the E20 corridor.
The Local London sub-regional partnership, London First and the Learning Revolution Trust jointly sponsored the 'Fit for the Future' conference, held in UEL’s University Square Stratford building in October.
London’s post-16 vocational education system is facing unprecedented challenges. Uncertainty about Brexit has resulted in warnings about skill gaps and shortages from employers in key sectors. Within this complex environment, eight London boroughs, together with businesses and education providers, hope to work collaboratively to identify key employment themes and priorities. The intention is to strengthen pathways to work, up-skill local residents and meet the needs of employers more effectively.
The conference was opened by Geoff Thompson MBE, UEL’s chair of the Board of Governors. 
He said, “At UEL we have a simple vision and aim: that every single student who graduates knows exactly where they’re going in terms of career, apprenticeship or entrepreneurship. We will act as a social broker, a cultural enabler and an economic deal-maker.”
One of the local business participating in Fit for the Future was building company Rooff Ltd. Director Steve Drury said, “Construction is 10 per cent of the national GDP, but it’s not always up there for people in terms of a career. A job for life no longer exists, but you can have a career for life within the sector.”
Sharon Allen, chief executive of Skills For Care, a company in the social care sector, shared her predictions about the future. She said, “Social care is an area that is going to grow. We contribute £38 billion pounds to the UK economy. We project that by 2025 we’re going to need an additional 150,000 people in the workforce.”
The chair of the Local London Skills and Employment Board, Councillor Darren Rodwell of the borough of Barking and Dagenham, said, “We have challenges like we’ve never seen before. London is moving east and, in my borough, we will be building equivalent to the size of York. We will need to find people with the skill sets to fill these job opportunities. No longer will we be the dirty side of London when it comes to industry. We will be the aspirational side when it comes to ability.”