From education to employment

Start-up courses and skills training: broadening the appeal of further education

The extension of the compulsory full-time education leaving age in England from 16 to 18 means that further education institutions have access to a wider range of talent than ever before. But with these increased student numbers comes added scrutiny on colleges and institutions to provide high-quality, worthwhile courses to students, in order to give them the best possible chance of building successful careers.

Participation in apprenticeship schemes has shown significant progress over the past year, with statistics from Positive Outcomes demonstrating a 40 per cent increase in apprenticeship placements in the 12 months to March this year. With this in mind, it is even more crucial that other further education providers do what they can to keep pace with this increased competition.

One way to do this is by appealing to those with entrepreneurial spirit; those who dream of forging their own path in life through starting their own business. Many budding business owners start their careers with the raw talent, ideas and ambition to make it as an entrepreneur, but lack the resources, confidence or knowledge required to get their big idea off the ground. This is where embracing business start-up courses and skills training more readily can make the difference: with the government recently appointing Lord Sugar to help encourage more young people to make the most of their entrepreneurial flair, there has never been a better time to focus on this area.

Striking out on your own is a daunting prospect, regardless of how naturally confident you are. You can be born with the seed of entrepreneurial spirit, but it is important to cultivate these natural abilities so that they can be applied in the best possible way when the time comes. Expert tuition provided through skills training or entrepreneurship qualifications is an effective way for young people to begin to hone these skills, in a low-risk environment where they can learn more about the intricacies of running a fledgling business, including finance skills and human resource management.

The benefit of focusing on offering these courses is not limited purely to the students themselves: colleges and further education providers can ensure they retain a wider range of talented young people, which promises a positive reputational impact and a more certain future for the next generation of entrepreneurs. In an increasingly competitive further education environment, this impact cannot be understated.

The future employment market is set to remain a challenging one, so young people need to be given the most comprehensive range of choice possible in further education. Offering qualifications in business start-up skills enables further education institutions to tap into a new well of talent, while empowering young people to create jobs, as well as look for them. Many further education providers have taken steps to go down this route already: it is time others gave serious consideration to doing the same.

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