With jobs and skills at the top of the region’s economic agenda, the role of one local foundation is helping to turn the tide for the future prospects of hundreds of young people. Tees Business finds out more…
Dedicated to inspiring the future of the Tees Valley. It’s a lofty commitment but one Lauren Bywater says the High Tide Foundation she leads is determined to achieve.
The Foundation’s aim is to improve learning and employment opportunities whilst raising aspirations for young people across the region through its unique work experience and industry-led skills programmes.
General manager Lauren has been leading the charge for the last five years, helping transform the way in which young people across the Tees Valley view a career in industry and gain vital experience across a diverse range of key sectors.
Lauren’s focus is on connecting education directly with businesses to deliver a programme of career education, enrichment activities and first-hand workplace experience opportunities through High Tide.
Launched in 2012, High Tide has already enjoyed great success. Over the last five years it has worked with more than 6,000 young people in the Tees Valley. But tide and time wait for no man. And now High Tide is ready to move into unchartered waters.
It already works with more than four out of five of all the region’s secondary schools but the ambitious target is 100% to ensure every student aged 11-16 is given access to High Tide’s influential programmes.
“We’re ready to implement a real step change that will truly transform career experiences for young people across the region,” promises Redcar-born Lauren, who returned to the region after successfully completing her own studies at Hull University.
“The way to engage and inspire young people is to connect them with people in business – to get them out there and amongst industry and meeting the people that make things happen.
“Over the last five years we’ve seen our membership grow to over 150. It’s not about writing a cheque – it’s about attitude, culture, collaboration and involvement.”
At the core of everything High Tide does is inspiring and creating the employees of tomorrow for the region’s established and developing industries.
“Skills development and retention is a key challenge facing many sectors, locally, regionally and nationally,” says Lauren.
“Our programmes not only provide real life work experience but they also offer genuinely unique and life-changing opportunities for young people.
“Every business across our region has one thing in common – we all need good people. Fresh talent with bundles of enthusiasm, equipped with the right level of skills, disrupt the norm within businesses. They spark innovation and push the boundaries, which drives progress and positive change.”
And now the Foundation is set to create a new wave of progress.
“High Tide is on the cusp of great change,” says Lauren. “Our growth strategy aims to dramatically increase the understanding of careers, labour market and the workplace as well as helping to expand networks.
“Whilst our focus is primarily on young people, parents and teachers are huge influencers in terms of the career decisions taken, so we need to ensure they too are fully engaged and understand the changing landscape of industry and what new opportunities lie ahead for their children.
“Tackling the skills issues we face isn’t the task for employers alone. The success will be in our ability to bring together parents, teachers, employers and young people, which I’m confident we can do.
“There’s a real feeling of optimism in the region at the moment, with lots of good news about some significant long-term investments either taking place or in the pipeline.
“As a region we need to be ready to deliver and support such investments by ensuring we have the right people with the right skills to fill the employment requirements of inward investors.”
High Tide is keen to talk to more employers of all sizes who are willing to pledge a commitment to support the skills development of young people. Membership is free. Time and resources to deliver inspiring programmes is key.
• For more details about how to get involved with High Tide email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit hightidefoundation.co.uk