Every year it becomes more difficult for young people to secure even minimum-wage jobs. The market has become flooded with school-leavers that hold GCSEs and a levels – but have very little practical experience.
Traditionally, youngsters have accrued experience by progressing from basic jobs to more complicated occupations. Unfortunately, gaining this work experience has never been harder. Increasing pressure on students to achieve top grades – so they can better compete in a tricky job market – has squeezed their free time. This means there is less opportunity for them to fit part-time work in with their studies. While Generation X may have had at least some experience – a summer job in a factory, an evening stint stacking shelves, Saturday shifts washing hair at the salon – much of Generation Y finds itself thrown into the job market at 18 without a single hour of paid employment under its belt.
Given the constraints on the new generation, it is vital that students are given a modicum of employment training as part and parcel of their studies. Alongside career-specific or academic knowledge and skills, we need a core understanding that can transfer and be built on throughout the next generation’s working lives. Simply bringing today’s school-leavers up to the level of Generation X should not satisfy us. There’s an opportunity to push them well beyond that standard.
Looking back, I had little training or structured introduction to management, despite my going into management first in the public sector and then running the small, hardworking team that support my work as MP. Readers would have to talk to my staff about what I get right or wrong – actually, no, please don’t! – but it would have been hugely valuable to have had at least an element of training during my formal education. That’s where CMI can step in.
Campus CMI, which reaches pupils in schools across the UK, is an initiative designed to inspire young people, give them confidence and ready them for management. It can play a huge part in preparing Generation Y. The challenge is to make the kind of support and encouragement it offers them the norm.
Employers should play an important role in the process. It is in their interests to sponsor internship programmes in schools and tell the government and local authorities the kinds of skills and knowledge that they are looking for in tomorrow’s workforce. Employers need to intervene at an early stage to find the pupils that are best suited to their sectors. This will create future employees that are both better trained and loyal to the firms that have developed and mentored them throughout their school careers.
Yet we also need money. Given the troubled times, the Chancellor could be tempted to cut funding for schemes that will help this generation of young people into work. Such a move would undermine the economic recovery. It’s better to invest.
The government is extending freedoms to schools across the country, which means they are free to commission work from all sorts of agencies – and that they are in control of the resources to do so. They must use these powers to bring in management professionals and employers who can ready youngsters to take job opportunities in a time of great economic change.
Name: Dan Rogerson
Party: Liberal Democrat
Seat: North Cornwall
Current majority: 2,981
Former roles: School governor; university staffer
Political compass: Centre-left
Greater schools autonomy: Moderately for
Increase in tuition fees: Strongly against
Faith schools: Strongly against
Dan Rogerson MP is co-chair of the Liberal Democrat backbench committee for Education, Young People and Families. He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management, which is supported by CMI.
For details of the group’s discussions on the future of Management Apprenticeships, click here