The head of Furness College has backed the creation of a new board that will give young people a chance to shape the future of the county.
Andrew Wren said the Local Enterprise Partnership’s new Shadow Board will offer those aged 18-35 a strong platform to influence Cumbria’s economic strategy and ensure a vibrant future.
The shadow board will inform and advise the main Board on its strategy and investment decisions with all members living and working in Cumbria.
Mr Wren, who is principal and chief executive of the college and also the LEP’s board diversity champion, said it was a positive step by the board and an exciting opportunity for young people to have a say.
“We have made excellent progress on gender representation and we now want to make equally strong progress on broader diversity issues and encouraging representation from under-represented groups.
“In Cumbria, we recognise that one of these groups is our young people as we have the slowest growing population of any LEP area in the country. It is therefore really important that we hear from our young people and that they have a strong voice in shaping our economic future as we need all of our young people to want to live, work and build their career here.”
Sectoral representation and the type and size of businesses will be carefully considered to ensure that the Shadow Board fully reflects the make-up of Cumbria’s economy, with individuals invited from the private, public and voluntary sectors.
Jo Lappin, Cumbria LEP Chief Executive, said: “We recognise that young people are one of our most valuable assets and it’s therefore really important that they have a stake in the future of our economy and are involved in influencing CLEP’s activities going forward. The Shadow Board is an excellent opportunity to make sure that this happens.”
The decision to develop the Shadow Board builds upon the significant progress that Cumbria LEP has made in making sure that its Board fully represents the community it serves. Over the last twelve months it has worked to encourage female representation, which meant that it met its 2020 gender equality milestone target a year ahead of schedule.
Caleb Deeks, Director, Policy, Delivery and Private Office with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Cumbria LEP’s Sponsor Director, attended the latest Cumbria LEP Board meeting and welcomed the Shadow Board initiative.
He said: “The Department is committed to improving the diversity of all LEP Boards, as outlined in the Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships report, and one of the key under-represented groups in Cumbria is young people, given the declining working age population, so this move is to be applauded.”
The nominations process, role description and working arrangements will be considered by the CLEP Board at its next meeting on 27 September.