Lady Cobham Appointed Director General of the 5% Club

• Lady Cobham CBE appointed first Director General

• Brunel University London and ComRes move membership towards 200

• High level Steering Board created

• Founder, Leo Quinn, to make substantial donation and underwrite up to £100,000 running costs

The 5% Club, the employer-led movement which champions investment in the next generation through workplace training, announces the appointment of Penny Cobham as its first Director General.

Lady Cobham has been Chairman of VisitEngland (the national tourist board) and its Advisory Board (2009-2017) and serves on the boards of Linley and Pagefield Communications. She has been a consultant to Ernst and Young, Citi Private Bank and Farrer & Co. and chaired the British Casino Association (1999-2009). In the public arena, inter alia, she has served on the boards of the London Docklands Development Corporation, the V&A and British Waterways and currently sits on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The 5% Club was launched 3 years ago to drive cross-industry action to tackle the national skills shortage and reduce youth unemployment. Members commit to a minimum of 5% of their employees in ‘earn and learn’ positions – apprentices, sponsored students and graduate trainees – within 5 years of joining. Growth in members has been rapid, spanning all industries and sizes, from FTSE to SME, and including Government bodies.

The 5% Club’s membership represents a broad range of employers – with ComRes, the research consultancy, and Brunel University London (the first academic body to sign up) the latest employers to join.

With its agenda now achieving critical traction in public and business policy, The 5% Club has recently become incorporated, creating both a central office to support members and co-ordinate activities and a Steering Board to provide leadership and strategic oversight.

Finance for The 5% Club’s on-going work has been secured by a £40,000 personal donation from Leo Quinn, equivalent to 5% of his salary. He has committed to underwrite up to £100,000 of costs while wider fund-raising gets underway. In addition, The 5% Club is receiving pro-bono services from several organisations, including members QinetiQ Group plc, Balfour Beatty plc, Pinsent Masons and KPMG, and from Portland Communications and Medena Communications.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Leo Quinn, Founder of The 5% Club said:

“Every young person deserves the chance to learn skills and build a strong career. If Britain is to succeed as a world trade power, business leaders and employers from across all industries must meet that challenge head on with sustained, concerted effort.

“That is why The 5% Club, which today welcomes Brunel University London and ComRes, is increasing its resources with a Steering Board and permanent office. We are delighted that Penny Cobham will be joining us in the new role of Director General.

“With every additional employer who signs The 5% Club charter, we take another step forward in making lifetime skills – and a strong economy – a reality for our young people and help build the British workforce of the future.”

Penny Cobham, Director General of The 5% Club said:

“The 5% Club has a major role to play in ’earn and learn’ solutions for youth employment and skills training. We need to continue to promote this agenda, both with employers to create the positions and with the young to see them as a practical route into the world of work. The 5% Club offers a tremendous opportunity to meet the skills challenge, spanning as it does all sectors and sizes of organisation in every region of the country. My goal is to continue to grow membership and share best practice, from those members with an established training programme to those members looking to grow their business by taking on their very first apprentice.”

Julia Buckingham, Vice Chancellor of Brunel University London, said:

“Brunel has a well-established tradition of recruiting and developing students from underprivileged backgrounds and of working with businesses to integrate work-based learning in our degree programmes. By joining The 5% Club we are reinforcing our commitment and offering to share our experiences to help other members to unlock the potential that so many young people in the UK have to offer.”

For more information contact:
Hamish Hardie
Portland Communications
T: 0207 554 1835

Notes to editors:

The 5% Club works with UK employers and key influencers to inspire, educate and retain a growing body of people into “earn and learn” placements in order to increase the number of apprentices, sponsored students and graduates.

The goal of The 5% Club is to increase the employment and career prospects of today’s youth and equip the UK with the skilled workforce it needs to safeguard Britain’s economy.

The 5% Club was launched in 2013.

Members sign The 5% Club charter. As a member of The 5% Club employers state they are:

• Committed to helping the UK’s growth agenda and acknowledge the importance of developing people as both a business and social imperative

• Playing their part in addressing youth unemployment and skills shortage

• Pledging to work towards having a minimum 5% of their UK workforce enrolled on formalised apprentice, sponsored student and/or graduate development schemes within five years

• Measuring and reporting on their progress annually against the above metric in their Corporate Social Responsibility section of the Annual Report and Accounts or equivalent document

• Committed to encouraging other employers to participate in the campaign.

The Steering Board for The 5% Club is formed of the Chairman, Leo Quinn, Group Chief Executive, Balfour Beatty; Allan Cook, Chairman, Atkins; Steve Wadey, CEO, QinetiQ; David Armstrong, UK MD, MBDA.

Membership is free, however going forward the running costs of The 5% Club will be funded by donations from members.