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Develop and retain higher level skills in our economy

In order to attract and retain skilled graduates and to upskill the existing workforce (and so improve productivity), we must ensure that the Higher Education (HE) offer available within Cumbria is extended to fully reflect the needs of the economy.

There are already good links between the HE sector and all of our Further Education (FE) Colleges, with several colleges offering foundation HE courses.

The aim is to increase and extend the range of full- and part-time options to developed advanced skills within Cumbria.

As well as increasing the local HE offer, there is also a need to promote the full range of HE opportunities to young people. The rates of progress into higher education vary widely across Cumbria and there is a need to make young people and those in the workforce better aware of the opportunities, whether full-time traditional study or alternative routes e.g. a degree apprenticeship, and make clear the benefits of obtaining higher levels skills and qualifications.

Photo of a large group of students throwing their mortar board hats into the air at a graduation ceremony

As well as increasing the number of residents developing higher level skills, together with our partners we are developing a graduate retention and attraction strategy with a two-pronged approach:

  1. Develop better longitudinal relationships with those young people who leave Cumbria to study and then work elsewhere; building on existing alumni networks of individual schools, colleges and universities, and developing Cumbria ambassadors and networks in major cities in the UK
  2. Establish ways of creating graduate opportunities in our businesses and organisations to provide the glue to retain our graduates, for example via graduate placements and secondments post-degree

Key actions for Cumbria LEP’s People, Employment and Skills Strategy Groups’ are:

  • Develop a shared understanding of employer demand for higher level skills, including:
    • Understanding future employment trends and needs
    • Developing flexible delivery methods
    • Building an enterprise culture
  • Develop a sustainable offer of Higher Level Skills:
    • Understanding what Cumbria can offer
    • Develop a shared approach to employability skills
    • Develop theoretical pathways into high level skills opportunities
  • Develop a shared understanding of HE progression and destination data

Photo of Faye Weston, Primary Education Teacher

CASE STUDY: Faye Weston, Primary Education Teacher

"As I studied here I thought it was important to keep my skills in the area," Faye Watson from Maryport said as she graduated from the University of Cumbria and looked forward to a career in teaching. The 21 year old had more than one reason to celebrate; as well as graduating, she also received the undergraduate education programmes ‘highest academic achievement prize’ in recognition of her sterling work as a student.

Now she has started working at Hensingham Primary School teaching year 4 pupils, adding to the high number of students who go directly into work after graduating. The university’s Institute of Education has partnerships with other 2,000 schools in Cumbria, Lancashire, London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

"I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember," Faye said and for parents Joanne and Paul a proud day that marks the end of three years study and the start of a new chapter.

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