by Ian Girling, chief executive, Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry

LATER this year we will be celebrating the second anniversary of the launch of Young Chamber, a ground-breaking programme building invaluable links between education and business to help prepare young people for their future careers and assist in the development of those essential skills.

Several schools are participating on the project and the response and contribution of businesses has been incredible. I’d like to say a really big thank you to all the businesses that are part of the project and of course our current Young Chamber sponsors – Blue Sky Financial Planning (Queen Elizabeth School), Walker Wealth Management (Lytchett Minster School), REIDsteel (The Grange and Twynham School), Coles Miller (Parkstone Grammar School), Lester Aldridge (Bournemouth School for Girls), the Hoburne Group (Highcliffe School), Actisense (St Edward’s School) and BV Dairies (Shaftesbury School).

Young Chamber is a not-for-profit programme providing schools with facilitated engagement with the business community covering a whole range of activities including hosting inspirational talks, visits to businesses, talks about post-16 options including apprenticeships and university, mock interviews and special events. At a time when we see unemployment at a record low, businesses are reporting real challenges in recruiting skilled employees. We are also witnessing technology change the face of the way we live – and do business. Never has there been a more important time to invest in the future of our youth.

One area that is desperately important to schools is the input of people within the business community at board level as school governors or trustees. Schools are very keen to embrace people that can bring skills and expertise to the board and help improve the education of their students and pupils as well as support the leadership of the school. People with skills in the areas of HR, buildings, project management and finance are in particular demand – and schools generally find it very challenging in finding governors and trustees from the business community.

Being a governor or trustee offers a great opportunity to really add value to the education system and people that volunteer in this way find it incredibly rewarding. We are committed to working with schools and help find volunteers from within the business community. Many of the businesses supporting Young Chamber have gone on to become members of boards and are making a fantastic contribution to the strategic leadership of these schools.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a school governor or trustee and really help make a difference to the education of our young people, we’d love to hear from you. We can provide you with clear information as to what’s involved and provide links to schools seeking governors. Please contact Vicki Hailes on to find out more.

We also have a number of schools across Dorset keen to engage on Young Chamber and seeking a sponsor. We’d also love to hear from you if you would like to find out more or become involved in Young Chamber.