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City leaders talk skills for Leeds

Leaders from public, private and third sector organisations have been brought together by  social enterprise Ahead Partnership to discuss their respective roles in addressing skills challenges as the regional economy emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an online session chaired by Stephanie Burras CBE, chief executive of Ahead Partnership, delegates discussed the particular needs of young people at this time and the pathways required to help them transition into the world of work.

Council leader Coun Judith Blake and city chief executive Tom Riordan used the session as a rally cry to encourage the city’s stakeholders to work together.

The group reflected on a range of pressing topics including the importance of a resilient economy and a clear focus on mental wellbeing, and the need to identify adequate training for those struggling to find employment was identified as a critical factor for future prosperity.

Stephanie Burras CBE, chief executive at Ahead Partnership, said: “Our digital session was a great opportunity to allow city leaders from the worlds of local government, education and commerce to come together and consider the clear challenges that we will face as a city in 2021, and look at how we can address them collectively.

“Something that has been especially encouraging during this challenging year has been seeing the public, private and third sectors all working together to achieve a stronger outcome – something that helps set Leeds apart as a true visionary when it comes to skills.”

Prominent individuals on the call referred to unemployment amongst young people being the ‘number one priority’ to address in the coming months and years.

“With research showing that young people have been disproportionally affected by the economic impacts of the pandemic, and figures revealing especially worrying unemployment figures for those aged under 25, the session was a timely opportunity for organisations to come together and plan their part in recovery efforts.

Having adapted their work to ensure that young people receive the support needed to cope with tumultuous circumstances and a difficult job market since the first lockdown in March, Ahead Partnership has recently worked with a broad range of organisations and schools to help deliver inspiring digital initiatives across areas including the healthcare, transport and professional services sectors.

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