From education to employment

FE needs to implement enterprise in education to improve employability skills

Dr. James Lott is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Working Knowledge,

A recent report by Lord Young has highlighted the need to harness the entrepreneurial mind-set of learners through enterprise in education.

With a reported 55% of 18-30 year olds intending to start a business compared to just 35% of the adult population it is essential that young people are taught real business skills and make links with local employers. The Enterprise for All report, released in June, details ways schools, FE and HE can encourage young people to ‘learn and excel in their education‘ and equip them with ‘the confidence to develop a career and vocational interests‘.

One of the ways to do this, Lord Young suggests, is by introducing an Enterprise Passport. This will be a digital record which will list an individual’s extramural and work-related activities. The purpose of this passport would be to present a well-rounded and complete view of the individual which can be used in conjunction with their CV when applying for jobs. It would allow employers to get an insight into the person’s skills outside of their academic qualifications. Young believes ‘this would have a strong motivational effect on children and young people and would be valuable to employers in helping them judge a potential employee.’

The report also details how the FE sector can enable young people to develop the skills they need to progress into the world of work or set up their own business.

A key way of doing this would be incorporating modules into vocational courses which teach learners how to start up and manage a business in that profession. Young suggests a core module on working for yourself and starting a business should be included in Level 3 vocational courses. ‘Hundreds of thousands of students are taught vocational trades, for example a hairdresser, a plumber or a painter, but not how to work for themselves, which many are likely to do at some point in their careers.’

The final suggestion the report makes to address how FE can develop young peoples’ enterprise skills is creating enterprise societies. ‘Enterprise societies operate across all subjects, drawing students from different disciplines together through a grassroots approach. This peer-led introduction to enterprise stimulates and engages them through a collaborative learning-by-doing approach‘. Such societies would give young people the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and develop new skills to further their career aspirations. The activities they engage in could forge links between the College and the local business community which would make it easier to engage employers to provide meaningful, work related opportunities to learners.

To read the full report, download it here.

At the Working Knowledge social enterprise, we have delivered employability and enterprise programmes with 13 partner colleges this academic year and have also worked with the West of England LEP to address industry skills gaps.

As a result we are aware of the wealth of talent and potential available in FE institutions nationwide. We believe in harnessing this talent through employability activities and engaging local employers to motivate and inspire the students further. With 767,000 young people aged 16-24 currently unemployed in the UK it is essential that we help young people make links with businesses and equip them with the skills that employers want.

All of our activities are tailored to meet the needs of the particular college and they all cater to Study Programme requirements. 72% of learners we have worked with over the past 8 years feel more likely to get a job as a result of the programmes and 15% have been offered further employment opportunities by the employers they have met.

We passionately believe in harnessing the talent and creativity of young people and creating chances for them to open doors into employment. We work with our partner colleges to help them develop strategies for engaging employers and embedding employability into their learner Study Programmes.

Dr. James Lott is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Working Knowledge, a social enterprise that creates chances for young people to open doors into employment. It offers a range of value-added work experience, enterprise and employability services to FE colleges that engage employers

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