Representatives from business, education and politics came together on Friday (18 March) as part of an ongoing drive to increase opportunities for Banbury residents.
The event was organised by the Brighter Futures in Banbury, a programme designed to ensure that young people growing up in the town have access to the training and support needed to enjoy a high quality of life.
Around 50 people, including local MP Victoria Prentice, Cherwell District Councillor Kieron Mallon and Adrian Lockwood from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, gathered at Banbury and Bicester College for a day of talks and workshops.
Cherwell District Council’s lead member for Brighter Futures, Cllr Kieron Mallon, said: “Brighter Futures is a long-term programme that aims to provide new opportunities, innovative projects and high-quality services in Banbury.
“It has already achieved much and, with Cherwell District Council strongly committed to Brighter Futures and to strong partnership working, the programme is set to ensure that opportunities and an improved quality of life are accessible to all in Banbury.”
The event also heard from Martin McGeever, a director at Kannegiesser which has its UK headquarters in Banbury, about the benefits of employers engaging with schools and colleges to develop a future skills pipeline.
Now in its fifth year, Brighter Futures in Banbury has a particular focus on the Ruscote, Castle and Grimsbury wards of the town. The partnership covers six key areas – early years, employment, family support, financial inclusion and housing, health and wellbeing and safer communities.
Lisa Dukes, head of campus at Banbury and Bicester College, said: “Education has a vital role to play in increasing opportunities for all. It has the power to develop skills and confidence and raise aspirations and we want to ensure that everyone has the chance to access a programme of learning that is right for them.
“Simply offering a course and qualification is not enough. We have been working to forge close links with local employers to narrow the gap between education and employment. This offers students a direct line of sight to meaningful employment, while meeting the skills needs of local business and supporting economic sustainability.
“The Brighter Futures in Banbury event was an excellent opportunity to bring educators, business leaders and decision makers together to understand how we can all work together better to benefit our communities.”
Outcomes from the event will be fed into an action plan, focused on improving skill levels, educational attainment and employability.