Make the Grade_Final

In partnership with CSR City Birmingham

‘CSR City’ is officially launched!


It’s offical, ‘CSR City’ and ‘Make the Grade’ Birmingham are officially launched following a successful, and well-attended, presentation at the Skills Show, Birmingham.


In front of an engaged crowd of business and education representatives, Greg Lowson – President of Greater Birmingham Chamber and Director of CSR City Ltd - and Stephanie Burras, Founder of the Ahead Partnership, delivered their objectives for the newly formed partnership, as well as their aims and ambitions for the Programme. These were followed by speeches in support of the initiative by Councillor Penny Holbrook and CEO of the Careers and Enterprise Company, Claudia Harris.

Setting the context for the event, Greg Lowson stressed the urgent need for schools to engage with businesses to bridge the skills gap for both students and employers. He discussed how current careers advice isn’t good enough and the need to increase and improve business engagement. With the Ahead Partnership’s exisiting Make the Grade model already a proven success, Greg concluded his speech by highlighting how it makes good business sense to get involved in programmes like CSR City, commenting “businesses with good CSR policies are proven to do better”.

By the end of year one of CSR City, Greg outlined the ambition to have 60 businesses commmitted to ‘Make the Grade Birmingham’, with 5000 pupils having benefitted from the scheme.

Handing over to the Ahead Partnership’s CEO, Stephanie Burras gave an overview of the Make the Grade model which has been successfully delivered in the Leeds city region for the last five years. As she moved on to talk more specifically about the initiative for Birmingham, she said: “young people are to be a part of the skills solution in this region and we will not achieve growth without the skills.” Stephanie outlined how the Make the Grade programme is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Each school and business is delivered a tailored solution depending on specific school/student needs as well as employer/business requirements. Stephanie emphasised that Make the Grade is about helping businesses just as much as schools.

Councillor Penny Holbrook (Cabinet member for Education & Skills) delivered an enthusiastic speech in response to the launch of CSR City. She discussed how it was the “one thing that’s been missing – partners to fill the skills gap” and how the Programme would produce a “thriving economy that benefits the whole of Birmingham”. Councillor Holbrook added how “Make the Grade is a unique product that ticks everyone’s boxes” which will “expose young people to a wealth of business opportunities.” She concluded her presentation by stating how “Birmingham City Council was 100% behind the initiative and looking forward to a working partnership with CSR City & Make the Grade Birmingham.”

The fourth and final speech from Claudia Harris gave an insightful overview from the Careers and Enterprise organisation’s view on inspiring young people for the world of work. Highlighting how only 40% of schools encounter employer engagement - and only once a year - Harris outlined the organisation’s aim to create encounters with employers through the launch of a network of business advisors to help schools connect with employers. The launch of a careers and enterprise fund will see £5million invested in country-wide schemes to support inititiatives that are proven to work in areas that are currently in-need and don’t have the support available.

The event finished with a number of questions being put to the panel from both employers and teaching professionals. Attendees demonstrated interest and encouragement for the launch of both CSR City and Make the Grade Birmingham and there was certainly an air of excitement about the future and development of the initiative.


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