Tuesday 6 May 2014

From the classroom to the boardroom

Our voice of Buckinghamshire Business this week is:
Sally Wells, Managing Director, Thomas Education.

On April 14th, Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Enterprise, brought together a group of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) at the Cabinet Office. The meeting was focused around the work Lord Young is doing to promote enterprise in young people, including the main recommendations within his report which is due to be published in the summer. What very quickly became clear is the vital need to identify how businesses can connect better with schools and how LEPs can aid this process in order to help young people to establish a defined career path when they leave school. In turn, this helps businesses recruit the brightest talent, ultimately bridging the gap between the world of education and the world of work.

Businesses and educators alike often have difficulties in connecting with one another and it is clear that LEPs are very keen to support this missing link. That said, it may not always be easy to facilitate this crossover as there are new challenges that face young people today. For example, if we look at the working habits of young people compared to twenty years ago, nowadays, young people start working later. The consequence of this is that young people often have a lack of exposure to the work place and are not armed with skills that are sought after by employers.

The LEPs themselves can be a powerful asset in helping to give young people a sense of direction and ensure they make the best possible transition between education and the work place. Without a doubt, the best place for breaking down barriers is at a local level. Matching up schools with local businesses will have the strongest impact on the community and is the most effective way of engaging both young people and businesses.

Ultimately, in order to be successful in the world of work, it is important that young people really understand where their strengths lie, and have confidence and focus. Thomas Education recently worked with Buckinghamshire Business First to carry out behavioural and personality/emotional intelligence assessments with a group of young people aged 18-24 who had been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for six months. The results of these assessments provided young people with insight in to their personalities and which working style was best suited to their profile. This increase in levels of self-awareness helped these young people understand themselves better and alongside tailored practical employment skills helped them to define their future career path. Within weeks of completing the assessment, over half of the original group had enrolled on a training course or found employment.

We believe that a local solution working with key providers, employers, local government, education centres, and LEPs can really help develop the potential of young Britain.

Sally Wells is Managing Director at Thomas Education.

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