Bridging the gap between poorer students and their peers is an area where charities can add value by raising aspirations and supporting engagement with formal education.
Developing the potential of individuals has long been a focus of charitable activity, involving financial support for talented individuals and promoting learning in areas ranging from astronomy to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Re-engaging adults through accessible learning opportunities is a way that community organisations can help address the region’s skills gap.
The challenge of equipping people in the North East with the qualifications and skills needed to secure the region’s future prosperity is significant . We lag behind the rest of the country in terms of the level of qualifications held by people of working age. This deters investment, and harms individual lives by trapping people in low-paid, insecure employment.
The voluntary sector is good at re-engaging adults in learning, and helping them develop skills relevant to work. But we need to get ahead of the problem by making sure that young people from all backgrounds achieve their full potential. Across the region, the attainment gap that appears at age 7-11 between children from different backgrounds persists right through school and beyond. Philanthropic support can help poorer children succeed by providing additional support to make learning fun and raise levels of achievement, complementing the work done by schools themselves.
Philanthropy can also nurture aspiration and enterprise among young people. It can do so by providing a bridge between business and education, and promoting subjects like technology, engineering, mathematics and science that are relevant to the higher value jobs the region needs.