Business Articles

Free Employability and Skills Conference to be held to ensure school leavers are work ready


Business leaders and the education sector in North Derbyshire are being urged to come together to address employability and skills in the area at a free conference next month.

With more than 14,000 students in North Derbyshire set to gain their GCSE and A Level qualifications over the next five years, the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Employability and Skills Conference aims to strengthen links between education providers and local businesses to ensure school leavers are work ready.

Returning for a third year, the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Employability and Skills Conference, will be held at Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa from 8.00am – 10.30am on Wednesday 13 February 2019.

The conference is organised by Chesterfield Borough Council, Gail Widerman of Placing Futures, D2N2 Enterprise Advisor Network and Destination Chesterfield.

The conference is an opportunity for employers and education providers to develop solutions together that will ensure young people leaving education have both the skills employers in the area require and are also aware of the employment opportunities available to them.

One of the headline speakers at the event includes Brendan Kelly, Managing Director of Heathcotes Group, the industry-leading providers of residential care for adults which is headquartered in Chesterfield.

Brendan Kelly commented: “Bringing on talented and dedicated people through apprenticeships has been vital to Heathcotes’ success in what is currently a very challenging health and social care sector.  Working with our learning partners, Chesterfield College, we have developed a work-based learning programme which has been very successful in developing long-term careers in this region, so we welcomed the opportunity to speak at this conference to advocate the enormous value of apprenticeships for school leavers and businesses alike.”

Mr Kelly will also be joined by representatives from Capgemini, Brookfield School and St Marys Roman Catholic High School, who will be speaking at the event.

Councillor Terry Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, explained why the conference is so important to Chesterfield and North Derbyshire. He said: “One of the council’s priorities is to ensure that local people benefit from the economic growth that we are seeing in Chesterfield.

“We have to plan now for future opportunities like HS2 and some of the other large developments so that, when those jobs become available, local people are skilled and able to take advantage of them.

“People in well paid jobs get more life opportunities, which means their health and wellbeing tends to be better and they have more cash in their pocket. This means they can spend more in the local economy. In turn, this supports other jobs.”

Gail Widerman, Director of Placing Futures Ltd, an independent consultancy service based in Chesterfield which links vocational learning to schools and employers, said: “Research has shown if a young person has four or more encounters with people from the world of business from year 7 to 11, they are 86% less likely to leave school and fall into NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and on average earn 15% more in their working lifetime. The more engagement students have with businesses while in school helps inform their aspirations and choices post education.  It also gives businesses the opportunity to inspire young people to look at careers in our local industries.”

Places at the conference are limited. To book your free place at the event, please visit: