The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), working in collaboration with five accredited Chambers of Commerce, has been awarded the Government Equalities Office (GEO) tender to set up and deliver five pilot partnerships between groups of local schools and businesses. These pilots will explore and test how different methods of engaging with businesses and schools can help to raise the career aspirations of young people –with a particular focus on increasing the career aspirations of girls in relation to STEM. Early plans include targeting male dominated industries to ensure that girls have greater exposure to career opportunities.

The partnerships will be delivered in local areas by Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, North East Chamber of Commerce and St Helens Chamber.

Commenting, Nora Senior, President of the BCC, said:

“Research* shows that nine out of ten employers are still looking for graduates to hire this autumn, and one of the most affected areas for skills shortages is in the engineering sector. It is essential that efforts are focused on attracting young talent into STEM sectors as they have traditionally struggled with skills gaps. We are pleased to be working with local businesses and schools to tackle this issue head on and raise career aspirations of the younger generation.

“Providing relevant training, guidance and education to young people is a core strategic objective of the BCC and the Chamber Network.  By winning this tender, as a network, we can proactively address the mismatch between schools and the workplace, and importantly raise the aspirations of girls around STEM subjects.”

Minister for Women and Equalities, Helen Grant MP, said:

“Congratulations to the British Chambers of Commerce for winning the contract to deliver these new partnerships between schools and businesses.

“This initiative is part of a package of measures recommended by the Women’s Business Council to maximise women’s opportunities in the workplace.” 

Yolanda Rugg, CEO of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, added:

"We recognise the low take up of STEM subjects and careers within science and engineering industries for girls, and with such a shortage of skills in the County, we are delighted to support this much needed initiative. We welcome offers from local businesses to get involved in local school activities and to contact the chamber as soon as possible to pledge their support. "