The Department for Education is the most important Department. Without the ability to read, write and perform at least simple maths, the country would fail and I’m worried that our education department is running into the ground. Schools have failed to cater to modern demands and this has to be addressed. This blog proposes my ‘manifesto’ of how schools should be run and actions that must be taken to ensure the success of our future workforce.
The standard subjects offered in schools are not relevant to the world of work. Industries should be writing the program, not professors. Let’s take History, Geography and Philosophy; think about how few of us actually go into a job where they use knowledge from these subjects. I’m not saying that these subjects shouldn’t be offered. It’s fantastic that at school we have the opportunity to learn and get a taster for these subjects but I don’t think that these subjects should be the norm to study. Partnership for Young London recently published that young people don’t believe that school prepares them for life skills.Students need practicality. I know that learning non-vocational subjects has benefits beyond the exact content, for example history teaches you to write an essay, philosophy demonstrates how to stage a debate, but why can’t we teach these skills using a ‘study of business’ as the material for an essay, and law as the material for a debate. Surely this would teach the same skills but the material taught would feel more beneficial for students?
Most young people leave school still unaware and undecided on a career path. We need teachers who not only have a passion for their subject, but understand how our commercial over academic world works. Perhaps if we encouraged more lessons centred around different careers, #GenerationNow would be more likely to know the career path they wanted to take when they left school and would up-skill them for industry at a much earlier age. Maryanne Matthews, Chief Executive, EY Foundation reported that 88% of 1,500 young people surveyed want employers to offer more opportunities for work in order to learn more from them, and to understand the workplace and how that relates to their path in life. Like I mentioned before, we need to bring industry to education; 5 interactions with a professional during education means young people are 83% less likely to be NEET and that’s why yourfeed is taking industry to education on our UK tour this year.
Schools need to offer more vocational subjects at an earlier stage. Generally, these subjects are not offered until GCSE level and most young people don’t take anything vocational until 6th form or college. There are many young people who don’t take any vocational subjects throughout their school career! Even when vocational subjects are taken at GCSE, A Levels or College they are often not seen as ‘intelligent’ subjects or they are seen as easier options to more traditional subjects such as History or English Literature. This mindset is completely wrong and needs to change. We not only need to offer more vocational subjects from a younger age so that people can study topics which will help them to get a job, we also need to change the general conceptions and assumptions that people hold of vocational subjects. They should be regarded as equal with other subjects by Universities and employers rather than ‘cop outs’.
Schools need to stop pushing University onto students as the be all and end all of having a good career. 60% of young people aren’t interested. Yes, University is great for some people and necessary for some professions BUT university is seriously over encouraged by teachers who aren’t commercial. Far too many people gain unnecessary degrees which don’t teach them anything that will help them when they reach the world of work. Surely apprenticeships, which teach vocational knowledge at the same time as work experience, are much more beneficial. Young adults will never learn as much in a lecture theatre about the world of work, as in an actual office or studio.
Lastly, schools need to be more digitally focused. #GenerationNow needs to learn how to make their own personal brand online and I believe that social media needs to be encouraged at school. Building this personal brand is just as crucial as a CV - if not more important! Through yourfeed, we’ve identified that CV’s have meant young people are disregarded and lose confidence - it doesn’t portray who they are, their skills or potential hence the creation of yourfeed. The idea of encouraging young people to get online could be seen as controversial as many schools even ban Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms but this is the completely wrong approach. Schools need to face the modern world and like it or not, it’s online. Rather than avoiding the huge elephant in the room, I think that social media classes should be included in the curriculum. Young people should be taught how to present themselves to employers, and how to build a brand online.
Without social media I would never have got to the stage where I am in my career. It’s been the way I’ve been able to present myself to prospective business partners and how I’ve marketed yourfeed. I’ve had to teach myself how to use it and I’m sure there are many tricks of the trade which I’ve still not discovered. yourfeed has been created as a way for young people to showcase themselves and make the most out of being online. Schools should be teaching kids how to use the incredible platforms available to them and how to harness them to their advantage. Of course people will say that social media shouldn’t be encouraged as it can be a breeding ground for cyber bullying, but by blocking the sites, schools are only repressing the problem and not facing it. By teaching students how to use social media correctly, hopefully they’ll not use it in detrimental manners as some do now, but rather they will appreciate it as the brilliant tool that it is.
So let’s round up and breakdown my ‘manifesto’ I have 4 key points to a more modern and successful education system:
Encourage vocational subjects, not just academic.
Include more vocational training throughout the school career.
University is not for everyone. Encourage apprenticeships and alternative pathways.
Get social! Add social media to the syllabus and encourage young people to build their own brand.
Jack Parsons, CEO of yourfeed and 'Prime Minister of Generation Now'