ONE of the most important developments within Hive has been the creation of its business school.

Early last year, it became clear to senior figures within the network that closer links were required between education and industry in Blackburn and Darwen.

Feedback made it clear that business was creating the jobs that students would fill, but many employers found a worrying shortage of necessary skills among would-be employees.

With youngsters also needing to be better informed of the employment opportunities the borough provides, the way forward was clear.

The Hive Business School (HBS) was the solution - and now, more than a year later, it has established itself as a key force in the borough.

In just 12 months, HBS has established partnerships in all of the borough’s non-independent secondary schools.

Hive director Ian Brown said: “The success of HBS is down to meeting real needs with a simple solution.

“We listen to businesses and schools and match their needs in a way that both benefit.”

One example of how this works is a project supported by Community Clothing, of Lord Street West, Blackburn.

Facing a skills shortage, bosses there created a brief to design a jacket.

HBS delivered this brief to schools and the students got creative.

This project raised awareness of Community Clothing and a career in design and gave the students the challenge of a real project.

That is far from the only case study.

Working with Kay Vaughan, Lancashire enterprise co-ordinator for Inspira, which supports schools locally in increasing the number of encounters young people have with employers, HBS gets business talking to schools and this has led to many examples of interaction.

Over the last 12 months, students have visited various companies and have benefited from visits in school from employees from all sectors.

One-to-one mentoring has supported students’ awareness of interview techniques and CV writing, while specific projects have allowed them to build their CV by supporting businesses in projects.

HBS is for all businesses regardless of sector or size.

The Mall shopping centre, for example, recently hosted students to show the variety of roles in its organisation as well as give an insider’s view of the workings of such a company.

Mr Brown added: “The real strength of HBS is the network. We know a school could ask for a very specific need and we will have a business partner that can support that. It’s a win-win.”

HBS`s new facility at Blackburn College also explores how education and businesses can work together for their mutual benefit, with firms encouraged to set up a meeting to find out more.

For more information about the HBS contact Mark Nelson on 01254 666490 or at


The business school's aim:

Hive is committed to supporting greater collaboration between the borough’s businesses and its education providers.

In a recent business survey, almost nine in 10 companies that had experienced recruitment difficulties cited a shortage of people with the right skills or attitudes.

Hive is engaging with partners to provide a framework for businesses to help them meet their future skills needs, and through facilitated involvement, seek ways in which education and business collaboration can add value to today’s businesses.

In doing so it will support the borough’s young citizens by providing learning, experience and careers guidance.

How does it work?

Hive and its partners work to understand the needs of our schools. Similarly, Hive leaders work with members to gauge the skill and capacity a business can offer the scheme.

By co-ordinating the two, a clear engagement process can then be agreed matching the skills of the business to a school’s needs, while being mindful of the company’s availability to provide.

Is my business not too small?

No. Future job creation is likely to come from today’s smaller businesses, so your participation is vital to close a potential skills gap and ensure there are suitably skilled recruits.

All businesses have a role to play and this is a great opportunity to determine the level of support you can offer as part of a much larger provision.

How might my business contribute?

Any one of the following would be a useful contribution in supporting schools, and importantly the future of your business: hosting a visit to your place of work, pupil mentoring and career information and advice, work experience opportunities, attending jobs and careers fairs, helping with interview practice and running a competition or challenge.

How might my school contribute?

Bringing subjects such as mathematics, language and science to life by using real-life business situations.