In October 2016, the Government announced that Oldham, a social mobility ‘cold spot,’ would become one of 12 Opportunity Areas across England. The data shows that in these areas, children and young people are less likely to have access to opportunities and support than those from similar backgrounds in other areas. The Opportunity Areas are set to address the geography of disadvantage and will create local partnerships with early year providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses and the local authority to ensure children and young people get the best start in life, no matter what their background. The three priorities of the Oldham Opportunity Area are:
- School readiness for all children by the age of five.
- Raising attainment and raising it faster for disadvantaged young people.
- Ensuring all young people are ready for life, learning and work.
Full details can be found in the Oldham Opportunity Area Delivery Plan.
A key aim of the Opportunity Areas is to build young people’s knowledge and skills, to broaden their horizons and help inspire and prepare them for the fast changing world of work. The Careers and Enterprise Company is a partner of the Opportunity Areas. The CEC’s network of local and national ‘cornerstone employers’ have made a collective commitment to support young people in Oldham by ensuring that; they receive at least five high quality and inspiring encounters with the world of work, and that each secondary school and college in the area is matched to an Enterprise Adviser. In Oldham, the cornerstone employers are:
- Lloyds Banking Group
- Unity Partnerships
- Web Applications UK
- Willmott Dixon
Further information about the cornerstone employers can be found here.
The CEC have invested funding into a number of effective and well-established careers and enterprise programmes in the Opportunity Areas that work with young people to give them access to encounters with an employer. As part of a rate card system, all secondary schools and colleges in Oldham were able to choose which activities they would like to run, many of which are now taking place with young people experiencing interactions with employers and employees and visits to the workplace. In Oldham, the six providers of these activities are:
- Engineering Development Trust (www.etrust.org.uk)
- Future First (www.futurefirst.org.uk)
- Mahdlo Youth Zone (www.mahdloyz.org)
- OnSide Youth Zones (www.onsideyouthzones.org)
- TeenTech CIC (www.teentech.com)
- Young Enterprise (www.young-enterprise.org.uk)
Further information about the investment fund can be found here.