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Recruiting outside the box

Changing mindsets to persuade people to consider jobs outside traditional gender stereotypes is a key challenge for Margaret Coleman.

"We are encouraging more women to do construction and engineering, and men to do health care and public services," the regional director for Yorkshire and Humberside LSC said.

"All employers need a much bigger recruitment pool to fish in.

"Many are now beginning to think about recruiting different types of people, such as older people and the disabled."

Efforts are also being made to draw more people from the region's large ethnic-minority population back into learning. A "Youth Build" project has been established in Bradford to attract Asian youngsters into the construction industry.

She said: "In wards where there are high numbers of people with Asian heritage, particularly Pakistani, there are lower levels of attainment.

"We have set up a pilot programme in leadership training for faith leaders in Christian and Islamic communities, to help reach out to learners.

"By engaging with voluntary and community groups, faith communities reach people who are socially excluded, and can help us get them into learning."

A Centre for Learning Excellence opened in Bradford in September, where pilot research into what it means to be a leader of a geographical area rather than an institution is planned.

"We are also working with the Regional Development Agency on a capacity-building programme to create more teachers and tutors to meet the huge demand we are generating," said Ms Coleman.

She also said efforts need to be made to halt the "brain drain" from the region.

"We have less than 2 per cent of our working population in high-tech businesses,"she added.

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