Chamber Chat, Wes Johnson

January 30, 2019 - 2:00pm

Chamber Chat, Wes Johnson

Maintaining an International Perspective

As someone who was born in 1972, six months before the UK joined the EEC, I have never experienced such uncertainty as we approach the 29th March.  However, rest assured that this won’t be yet another Brexit related piece!

For our future workforce and economy to thrive I believe our young people must have the widest range of opportunity to broaden their horizons and raise aspiration, and this should maintain an international perspective.

We know a high proportion of our young people face some sort of personal, social or demographic challenge, and sometimes with limited exposure to people from other cultural backgrounds.

As one of our community’s anchor organisations we recognise our role in preparing Lancaster and Morecambe’s young people to be effective members of the local workforce in future years.

Over recent years, using Erasmus+ funding, young people from our district have lead summer camps for children in Estonia, Bulgaria and Slovakia; Hospitality based placements in Italy; IT and Computer Games Development placements working and shadowing in the Czech Republic and Lithuania; Plumbing and Metal Work Apprentices on work-placement in Denmark; Health & Social Care students nursing in Iceland, Netherlands and Spain; and Animal Care placements at a Zoo in Poland.

Whilst the situation around migrant workers in our District continues to be fluid there remains the opportunity for incoming international volunteers. For example, during 2018, we welcomed EVS volunteers for the first time to work and learn alongside teams in ICT, Marketing, Student & Learning Services and International Projects.  It’s not only our young people who get the opportunity to travel abroad, staff participate in projects and training, they often return to their workplace revitalised and reinvigorated with new ideas.

I have been delighted to see first-hand the positive impact of international activities on our District’s young people and I have heard numerous examples of how these opportunities enhance their lives, raise their aspirations and enhance their employability.

Wes Johnson in Principal and Chief Executive of Lancaster and Morecambe College, and also a Director of the Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce

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