At a meeting of the South Warwickshire branch of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce at Stratford Racecourse, Mr Zahawi met with businesspeople from across the region to hear about their work and to update them on the government’s negotiations with the EU.
Lizzie Mara, enterprise coordinator at the Chamber, told the meeting about the work the Chamber was doing to help young people, including those with special educational needs (SEN) or who have come out of care, get into work.
She said 40 schools in Coventry and Warwickshire had signed up to have an ‘enterprise adviser’, who gives pupils expert career advice and mentoring.
Lizzie also spoke about the low employment rate of young adults with SEN and encouraged businesses to give them opportunities.
Finally, she said the Chamber would be supporting the Care Leaver Covenant – an initiative introduced by Mr Zahawi in his role as Minister for Children and Families – which allows businesses to pledge support to children coming out of care by giving them apprenticeships, work experience, or free goods or services.
Lizzie added: “This is a social mobility issue, and an issue of social responsibility for us as businesses. Getting disadvantaged people into employment is so important.
“We need to be doing as much as we can to help our young people. It’s not easy for businesses to know how to support them, so we need to work on easing that transition.”
Her work was praised by Mr Zahawi, who said it was crucial businesses were doing everything they could to help vulnerable people, no matter what the outcome of negotiations with the EU.
“It’s wonderful to hear the Chamber is doing this kind of work,” he said.
“It’s so important that businesses continue to support young people from all backgrounds – they are a pool of human resource that cannot remain untapped.”
Larry Coltman, chair of the South Warwickshire branch of the Chamber, said: “It is great to be able to share the great work that Lizzie and the Chamber team are doing with young people in the region.
“And we were grateful for Mr Zahawi for explaining his position on Brexit to us – we hope businesses in Coventry in Warwickshire will get the certainty they need soon.”
For more information on the Care Leaver Covenant, head to www.gov.uk/government/collections/care-leaver-covenant--2 or contact Lizzie Mara on [email protected]