Pictured l-r are Ninder Johal, president of BC Chambers of Commerce, Inspector Jonathan Peepall, West Midlands Police Counter Terrorism Unit and Chris Luty, BCTG director.
Tackling extremism from the classroom to the workplace and instilling British values of mutual respect came under the spotlight at a Fairer Britain conference held in Walsall.
Training organisations, schools and colleges across the Black Country attended the event, which focused on how they can prepare apprentices and young people not just for work but also for life in modern multi-cultural Britain so they can contribute positively to society.
Speakers included Dudley North MP Ian Austin, whose constituency has recently seen unprecedented numbers of far right protest marches in Dudley over a proposed new mosque.
Also speaking was Inspector Jonathan Peepall, from West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, Dr Carl Chinn and Ninder Johal President of Black Country Chamber of Commerce.
Ian Austin told the audience: “We need to make people think about what it is to be British. It is not about religion or the colour of your skin but it is about how you behave and what positive contribution you make to the country.
“It is never more so important than now to promote values of tolerance, democracy and freedom. We hold citizenship ceremonies for people coming to our country maybe we should also introduce citizenship ceremonies for young people to be clear about the values we uphold in Britain.”
Inspector Jonathan Peepall told the 100-strong audience about the Home Office Prevent programme and how more and more organisations like schools and training organisations have to play their part in tackling extremism.
He said: “ We are getting more and more referrals from agencies, schools and colleges telling us about concerns they have. All organisations will need a Prevent Plan because we all need to be alert to young people being exploited. I can’t emphasise enough, if you have concerns about young people being radicalised you must talk to us and we will work with you.”
Ninder Johal, President of the Black Country Chambers of Commerce, told the conference that Black Country businesses were working in global markets and not only are diverse skills needed among young people but also values of tolerance and respect for others.
“We need to educate a we and us generation, not me and I,” said Dr Carl Chinn, who praised unsung heroes of the region’s past and said work was at the heart of fairness and stressed the importance of education for young people from all backgrounds.
The Fairer Britain Conference, held at Banks’s Stadium, on the day the nation held a one-minute’s silence for the victims of the Tunisian beach attack, was organised by training experts BCTG based in Taylors Lane Oldbury.
Chris Luty, BCTG director, said; “It is part of our duty to young people not only to equip them with the skills they need to do well in employment but to also help develop acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. It is also essential that trainers, schools and colleges are aware of their responsibilities under the Prevent programme.”
The conference follows on from two previously successful BCTG events, which addressed equality and diversity in the workplace.
Note to editors
• BCTG works with a range of training organisations across the West Midlands delivering a range of publicly and privately funded training initiatives. It is based In Taylors Lane, Oldbury.
• BCTG works closely with a range of public and private organisations, including the Skills Funding Agency which support many of our activities.
• BCTG has four main aims:
1. Engaging with young people and adults to take up vocational learning
2. Working with employers to help develop the skills their business needs to succeed
3. To improve the quality of education and training delivered in the West Midlands
4. Building partnerships across all the stakeholders interested in improving education and training.
• BCTG offers a wide range of information, advice and training services to suit the needs of young people, schools and training providers and employers.
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