From education to employment

Is industry failing its future workforce?

Jack Parsons, CEO of yourfeed

I’ve got an idea. What if industries began to realise that their future workforce depended on their support of young people? What if they played a more active role in education to support the transition into THEIR business?

The world of work is changing. Now, I’m no expert however, as someone who had to create their own opportunities by starting a business at 21 years old, I can stand testament to the challenges that young people – or #GenerationNow as I call them – are facing and businesses are beginning to get left behind.

1.3 million young people currently spend six months or more not in employment, education or training. This is the same 1.3 million young people that will make up part of the 75% millennial workforce by 2025.

There’s a lot of discussion around the problem but I like to keep it simple and have two suggestions. Firstly, we need to create a standard of skill based hiring; it’s not where you’ve been but what you can do. #GenerationNow are disregarded because they don’t have the experience that employers are reluctant to give and are either unable to get a job or they take on jobs that they have no interest in just to be employed. Is education meant to build ambition only to be destroyed once you leave? 66% of young people in full time employment want a career change by 2020 and I can see why.

Secondly, education needs more industry support. Last November, Ofsted reported that local employers believe a lack of work-related learning was a barrier to young people gaining employment. That’s great but where’s the action? Emily Follis, Policy Manager at London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recently wrote on FE News that without employers ready and willing to invest their time and money in apprentices, the work that the Government and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry are doing to increase apprenticeships and opportunities for young people will be for nothing. I agree but why not start earlier? In the same Ofsted report, we saw the success of enterprise education, it works.

Last week I was told about Germany’s success. Germany has a 90%+ participation rate in education or training up to and beyond age 18 compared to the UK decline from age 17. The CEO of the Sparkasse Bank – who invest in 90 work placements a year, training, mentorship AND apprenticeship opportunities – had himself been an apprentice on their programme and this example isn’t a one off.

From SME’s to large businesses, industries need to invest in real, fit for purpose programmes for students. Whether it’s real-life work experience, workshops in schools, providing mentorship opportunities, creative business ideas and pitch sessions or motivational speaking, it all has an impact. It also creates a great foundation for the future of their workforce by gaining brand loyalty and working with young professionals who can grow and adapt with the needs of their business rather than finding employees who fit a one-time criteria.

In this digital age, we all have direct access to leaders, brands, consumers and peers. #GenerationNow are creating their own successes through leveraging these opportunities and we’re often seeing stand out and unusual hires in the press because CV’s and cover letters are outdated. It shouldn’t be newsworthy that people are being hired based on showcasing skills, it should be the norm and that’s the mission for yourfeed – an online network that connects young people to relevant brands and professionals while providing opportunities to network, upskill and progress in their careers – and why I’ve made the pledge to connect 2 million young people to commercial opportunities by 2020.

Action and impact is what matters. As part of the pledge, yourfeed are going on tour around the UK to take the industry to education and you’re all welcome to join us. We all have one goal, to support #GenerationNow and I believe that if students spent 20% of their time in practical work experience, we’d have a powerful workforce. If industry steps up, it could be their workforce.

Jack Parsons, CEO of yourfeed and ‘Prime Minister of Generation Now’

Twitter: @yourfeeduk, @JackParsons_CEO

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