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Top bosses' inspirational bid to tackle skills deficit

A new campaign that aims to get the province's top business leaders involved in inspiring the next generation launches today.

The national Work Inspiration campaign will be delivered by Business in the Community (BITC) in Northern Ireland, in conjunction with the CBI and supported by Northern Bank and UTV Media plc.

A launch event for the campaign is being held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, bringing together leading chief executives and young people to have a 'Big Conversation' about the world of work and work experience.

Since Spring 2008, Business in the Community has been surveying senior business leaders for ideas on how to tackle the skills deficit in the UK.

One of the key issues identified was the gap between the idea a young person has of the world of work and what business expects from new recruits.

In Northern Ireland, 22,000 young people are eligible for work experience each year. But BITC said that to be effective, it must be meaningful, relevant and, above all, inspiring.

John McCann, chair of the Work Inspiration campaign in Northern Ireland and group chief executive of UTV Media plc, said: "Today, we are hosting a Big Conversation where over 50 chief executives and business leaders are meeting with 15 and 16-year-old students to raise awareness among the corporate sector of how businesses can be used as a catalyst for positive change in the way work experience is provided for young people.

"With a more transparent and inspirational picture of the world of work, young people will be able to make better decisions about their future career paths upon leaving school or university."

Liz Lemon, programme manager for Work Inspiration, added: "Businesses of all sizes and types, public and private, need to commit to making changes, and to reviewing and improving the work experience they offer.

"We need to show young people that there are many routes to success.

"Work Inspiration will bring threefold benefits: we have tools to help employers provide inspirational placements, guidance for schools to help prepare students before embarking on their placement, and the results should be inspirational, informative and fun placements for students."

Work Inspiration has been piloted over the past few months with a number of companies including: Aurion Learning, Bombardier, Eircom, MJM Group, Northern Bank, Northgate Managed Services and UTV Media plc.

Companies that are interested in getting involved can visit www.workinspiration.com or alternatively you can email liz.lemon@bitcni.org.uk.