The government’s apprenticeship ambassador to business welcomes our new publication
This is an excerpt from Securing Britain’s Future – read the full publication online now:
London business leaders tackle skills gaps, leadership issues, youth unemployment and workplace diversity
After the worse recession for a generation, Britain is finally turning a corner. The country is at last seeing early signs of growth, so now is the best time for us to turn our attention to a key component of the recovery: skills and talent. As it stands, we are faced with an acute lack of skills within the economy. The issue is not whether or not young people are educated – most are – butwhether we have equipped future generations with the right skills to help Britain grow. Although there are plenty of highly qualified people on the market, too many are qualified in the wrong field.
Engineering is a classic example: just to stand still, the country needs to produce 40,000 new engineers every year. If we mean to expand, we need double that, enough to replace the retiring generation of engineers and grow our existing capabilities. There is not enough of a realisation among educators, parents and business leaders that we must gently push young people into careers where they can find employment. There is little good in having a generation of highly educated young people who cannot find jobs. Yet this is the real risk that Britain runs today.
As the government’s apprenticeships ambassador, my role is to increase the number, quality and impact of apprenticeships in England. It is something I believe in and, indeed, I started my own professional career as a craft engineering apprentice.
I spend a lot of time in schools, colleges and factories every day, talking to young people about the future. What has struck me most is that when you explain to them what opportunities are available through apprenticeships, and how they apply to the real world, most are keen to take part. It’s a matter of giving young people the right advice. Pupils and students are given too little careers information, and are always persuaded to go to university rather than go into industry and learn the skills that the real world demands.
It is our role, as government and business leaders, to encourage young people to think about how their choices will affect their future. For me, this means advocating apprenticeships, where youlearn the skills of a trade that will deliver you a job for the rest of your life.
What will you do to secure Britain’s talent?