A PIONEERING education initiative which includes a Keighley school and a local college was highly commended at the national Children and Young People Now awards.

Industrial Centre of Excellence (ICE) brings together business and education in Bradford district. Oakbank School and Keighley Campus Leeds City College are part of the programme.

The scheme has now been recognised for its efforts to develop strong links between employers and schools, colleges and universities in order to improve young people’s prospects.

Oakbank and Keighley Campus's collaboration to create an ICE was announced earlier this autumn.

The project aims to develop a skilled workforce of young people to meet the needs of Keighley’s expanding engineering companies. It is focusing on advanced manufacturing and engineering including creative and digital technologies.

Students will begin engineering studies at Oakbank, then progress to the centre itself at Keighley Campus. The Keighley Campus centre, which will open early next year, is one of a number of Industrial Centres of Excellence being funded by Bradford Council.

Welcoming the news of the award, Chris Stott, Leeds City College’s business operations and sales manager, said: “Industrial Centres of Excellence are all about working partnerships to attract bright young people into specific sectors.

"It's about enabling them to have access to the latest equipment and technologies, while helping to address identified skills gaps.”

Commenting when Oakbank's involvement was announced in September, head teacher David Maxwell said:: “It’s very important that we give these children the opportunity to further their studies. There’s a shortage of engineers.”

Children and Young People Now is a magazine for professionals working with children, young people and families. The award was judged by groups of adults and young people.

The ICE programme forms part of Get Bradford Working, an employment and skills investment programme for Keighley and Bradford, which also includes a job creation fund, an apprenticeship training agency and a routes into work scheme.

Bradford Council has invested more than £10m into ICE, which aims to deliver at least 700 new jobs, 500 new apprenticeships and 1,500 school places linked to business.

Matt Findull, Bradford Council’s 14-19 lead officer, said: "The awards are about projects that make improvement to people’s lives, and we believe that ICE can offer young people a new way of developing skills and knowledge while gaining valuable work experience.”

Councillor Ralph Berry, portfolio holder for children’s services, said: "We’re delighted that this initiative has been highly commended. It is recognition of the hard work many people in the district have put into this programme to ensure our young people have skills that will lead to employment."