From education to employment

Results alone will not fill the skills gap

It’s that time of year again; a time when thousands of young people up and down the country will be anticipating the release of either their A-Level or GCSE exam results.

This is an extremely important milestone and will reveal the outcome of weeks of stress and hours of hard work.

Young people are our future and ultimately the success of this country lies in their hands; the hands of the future generation and workforce.

Given how important it is to ensure they are armed with the right education and skills to succeed, I was alarmed to read survey findings released last week by The Prince’s Trust and HSBC’s Skills Crunch, showing that we are still facing such a severe skills shortage.

The survey, of over 616 business leaders, found that more than two thirds feared a skills shortage would actually be ultimately responsible for stopping the UK’s economic recovery.

Britain is not the only country facing a skills crunch. In continental Europe, despite a region-wide unemployment rate of nearly 12 per cent, employers struggle to find workers with the qualifications they need.

Although it is hugely important to gain qualifications – often GCSEs being the first of many – we cannot rely on this alone to prepare our young people for the 21st century workplace.

Through initiatives like the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and Tycoon in Schools, the Peter Jones Foundation, has been campaigning to put enterprise at the forefront of education for almost a decade. One of the reasons there are so many young people out of work in this country is because there is a huge mismatch between what employers are looking for and what young people can offer them.

It is so important that we give students the opportunity to learn practical and commercial skills, as well as build their confidence to help them become job-ready. All of the courses we run at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy are based on a ‘learning by doing’ approach, applying practical skills to a real business environment.

Central to that ethos, we offer young people hands-on business experience through enterprise-focused BTECs, Apprenticeships and work-placements at our Academies across the county.

We recognise that employment is rapidly changing – and whether young people decide to make a job or take a job – they need to be equipped with the entrepreneurial mindset and skills needed to be the leaders of tomorrow.

There has surely been no better time for us to help young people carve out their own path in life. Across the nation, Britain’s young entrepreneurs and small business owners are at the forefront of pulling us out of economic stagnation – and we need to ensure this continues and that we are inspiring our next generation to take growth into their own hands.

I wish all students collecting their results over the coming weeks the best of luck. In the meantime, I urge them all to take a step back and think about the tools they need to go their own way in life and to make their dreams come true.

Alice Barnard is chief executive of the Peter Jones Foundation, which helps young people reach their potential through a range initiatives that champion entrepreneurship

Related Articles