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FOCUS FEATURE


EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLS


outcomes between academic and vocational learning thus placing greater value on university than apprenticeships. The reduction in careers advice and guidance for all young people resulting from successive Government policies has also undermined the impartial help available to young people to enable them to make the informed decisions they need to be able to navigate a complex landscape. Employers equally face significant challenges. The


productivity in the UK is considerably lower than key competitors which is related to the mismatch and poor utilisation of skills. Employers have been identified as the primary source of support for schools and colleges in trying to fill the void where careers professionals previously worked. In recent years we have seen a renaissance in a commitment to address the lack of parity between education and vocational qualifications which has resulted in significant policy changes including the introduction of apprenticeships, T-levels and the Industrial Strategy. Although schools/colleges and employers face multiple


and complex challenges there are significant opportunities to make a difference and ensure that young people can achieve their potential. In recent research by the CBI and Pearson, employers identified that they expect an increase in high-skilled jobs over the coming years but the lack of appropriate qualifications is going to be a significant barrier to recruitment. The research also argued that an individual’s postcode


should not be a barrier in defining life chances. These arguments present the primary drivers for school/college employer partnerships to ensure that young people are aware of the opportunities available in the current and future labour market and they are not disadvantaged by background in achieving their potential. The previous Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, is promoting the social mobility pledge which aims to encourage employers to contribute to their local community through partnering with schools, providing work experience to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and investing in open recruitment practices, which will attempt to level the playing field. Traditionally, schools have not always been clear how


best to use employers. The creation of the Careers and Enterprise Company in 2015 aimed to address these issues and to provide a conduit through which schools could not only be linked but supported to build strong relationships with employers. To achieve this the Careers and Enterprise Company has created local networks in partnership with the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and has established enterprise advisers who use their local knowledge of business to work with senior leaders in schools. Employers can provide insider knowledge for young


people about what the world of work is like, while employers benefit through potentially creating pipelines of new workers wanting to join them when they leave school and closer links with the local community.


‘Schools, colleges and universities and employers need to be more outward looking and pepare young people to consider the opportunities available in multiple labour markets’


It is important to recognise that schools/colleges and


employers have their own distinct roles and expertise but working in partnership they can help shape the life chances of future generations. Schools/colleges need to ensure that employability


activities are not ‘bolted on’ as enrichment but are integrated into the curriculum and that students are able to develop employability skills of problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork and communication. Preparing the future workforce requires more than just


partnership, it requires reimagining where educationalists can focus their expertise of teaching young people within a broader context, and employers work with schools to help translate the learning into real work preparation. Neither employers nor schools know what the jobs of the future will look like exactly, but what we do know is that young people will need not just traditional employability skills, they will require higher order cognitive skills, interpersonal skills and system skills. Research conducted by Nesta presents that although digitisation, technology and artificial intelligence will be dominant factors in what future workplaces look like, globalisation, population aging, urbanisation and the rise of the green economy are all important considerations. Collectively we have a mandate whereby schools,


colleges and universities and employers need to be more outward looking and prepare young people to consider the opportunities available in multiple labour markets including local, regional, national and international. This will help to ensure that young people develop the skills, knowledge and viewpoint that enables them to flourish at all levels. The challenges are multiple but the benefits are too. It is only through investing time and resource now that we can ensure that productivity will increase, skills mismatches in the labour market will decrease and that we can ‘home grow’ the talent that is required to meet our economic needs into future decades.


ABOUT SIOBHAN As Head of iCeGS at the University of Derby, Siobhan has responsibility for overseeing the centre's research and teaching and learning portfolio. She has an extensive


background in teaching and learning in relation to guidance and career management and has developed several programmes to support practitioners, including career management courses and careers education and guidance studies. Siobhan teaches on the MA in Career Education and Coaching, the university's Doctor of Education programme and Research Supervision programme for academic staff. She is a registered


career development practitioner, a NICEC Fellow and has been twice elected to represent England on the CDI’s Professional Development Committee.


46 business network June 2018


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