TWO key appointments from East Lancashire have been made to a body tasked with driving skills and boosting employment prospects.

Andrew Dewhurst, managing director of Accrington's Affilius Group, and Ruth England, headteacher at Shuttleworth College in Burnley, have joined the newly-launched Lancashire Skills and Employment Advisory Panel.

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) backed panel has emerged after a government decision to pilot local industrial strategies in Lancashire.

Mrs England said: “I am very pleased to a member of the panel, as lead headteacher for the Lancashire Careers Hub.

"The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership is committed to facilitating collaboration between business and education to enable young people to gain valuable insights into career opportunities.

"This enables Lancashire's young people to make informed choices about their future and provides inspirational inputs which raise aspirations and boost social mobility.”

Mr Dewhurst added: "I am delighted to join the panel to represent the thriving digital sector in Lancashire, and to encourage collaboration between business and providers to meet the skills needs of our digital businesses.

"The panel leads the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership which is making great strides in driving up digital skills at every level within our local population and business."

The nominees are joining Neil Conlon, the divisional director of Preston-based Conlon Construction and Dr Lis Smith, principal of Preston's College.

David Taylor, LEP chairman, said: "The choice of Lancashire as one of just a handful of areas nationally to help model this new approach was recognition by the government of the significant progress we have already made in strengthening the local labour market, supporting economic growth and fostering the economic health and well-being of the work force.

"The panel will build on these strong foundations over coming years, to further promote inclusive growth and maximise social value for the benefit of the local community as a whole.

"Adopting this new approach will enable us to work more closely with government to influence policy making at the highest levels. It will also unlock an extra £75,000 of extra government funding to extend our knowledge of Lancashire's labour market."

Amanda Melton, the LEP 's board director for skills and technical education, who chairs the panel, added: "We are delighted to have Andrew, Neil, Lis and Ruth on board.

"They are exceptionally high-calibre individuals, leading lights in the digital and construction industries, and the education world, respectively.

"They will provide invaluable insights into both the public and private sectors and help balance and complement the deliberations of the existing members."