A Question of Education – addressing the gap
We recently began working with a local charity, Basingstoke Consortium, which is an organisation that seeks to support and inspire young people in the area and build links between employers and education.
It’s a cause that we care greatly about here, and this need for a stronger union between business and academia is something which Karen, our Operations Director, has often spoken about and blogged about.
Last week we were invited to an event initiated by the Consortium – A Question of Education. There, educators and business leaders discussed the changes needed to make a difference to a generation of young people leaving school and graduating with limited work experience, prospects or confidence.
Really, it was a positive evening – one which demonstrated how hard schools, colleges, businesses and organisations are willing to work to address this gap between young people and employers. Ideas ranged from increasing local work experience opportunities to ensuring a curriculum addresses career success as well as exam success.
The oft-reported STEM skills shortage is becoming increasingly concerning for employers, and is prevalent in our own sector – hands up who else is looking for a front end developer! To combat this, we’ve just taken on our first apprentice, Lewis. After a few short weeks he’s making huge leaps of progress and, for us, it’s a great benefit that we are able to nurture and develop our own talent.
So, some big challenges face us all: For employers seeking the right skills, for academic establishments trying to prepare their students for employment, and for young people stepping out into an unfamiliar working world. We need stronger links between businesses and local schools, colleges and universities. And we need to promote the benefits of work placements and apprenticeships to businesses, particularly SMEs. To conclude with Karen’s closing for her NCUB article:
‘…Together, we can facilitate positive change in our local communities. Let’s talk openly with course leaders and academics to ensure employability and soft skills are a focus throughout college and university education.
‘Let’s focus on getting employers into schools even earlier – catch children before they make their option choices; speak with careers advisors to offer an insight into what small business leaders are really looking for. Let’s open our doors to workshops, to open days, to work experience.
‘[These] conversations need to be happening between SMEs and academia now, in order to educate, inspire and effect change.’
To find out more about the Basingstoke Consortium, please visit their website.