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  • Writer's pictureHenry Dorling

Skills... to pay the bills? What is the skills gap and how can we address it

The future of young people is rarely off the agenda and as a result schools, colleges and universities are all vying to offer young people opportunities that will enhance their employability skills and work opportunities, with industry involved to enhance their prospects to ensure they are ready to go out in the wide world. However, as a recent report shows, only 64% of young people move onto further education or training. Of that 64%, only 59% move onto a degree programme and only 1% move into an apprenticeship highlighting a clear gap that needs to be addressed.

Across the UK the number of young people who are NEET (Not in Education Employment or Training) has slowly been rising over the last few years. A report earlier this year by Youth Employment UK showed that 797,000 young people are NEET; this has increased by 39,000 on the previous quarter and 34,000 on the previous year. In addition the Youth Futures Foundation found that young people account for 46% of the overall fall in employment with almost 200,000 young people who are out of work have been unemployed for over six months. Youth Futures Foundation Director of Impact and Evidence, Chris Goulden, one of the authors of the report, commented that the report highlights the ‘alarming implications for our future economy and any ambitions to ‘level up’ our society.’

One of the issues is the skills gap which is getting wider for all, but is most profound for those who are most disadvantaged in our society.

Businesses are calling for a more adaptable, flexible and creative workforce to prepare for careers for the future. In a fast paced environment, organisations are looking to create and sustain a talent pool which can contribute to the future development of their own, but also the wider industry.

Young people must have a way to showcase those talents and skills that will ultimately stand them out from others but equally get them access to the talent pool in the first place.

As Chris Goulden again states, we need to ‘ensure that young people can benefit fully from future employment growth and investment….to secure good quality future employment, training and education.

And to compound the problem, around half of businesses are not satisfied with school leavers’ work experience which indicates that even if there are opportunities for young people, they are not able to develop and evidence their skills well enough.

It seems as though the ability to showcase skills and talents is paramount for young people to leverage opportunities and to be able to take advantage of links with businesses to build effective networks. It is also important to be able to navigate the most effective route through their chosen industry to build their career prospects. One third of businesses (33%) are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied by the amount of relevant work experience young people have.

Indeed, the employers believe a top priority for schools and colleges should be developing awareness of working life with support from businesses (42%) as well as improving the quality of careers advice (42%).

So how can we as educationalists, as parents or just as a society who care about our young people and their future prospects, actually help to address this?

As a digital interactive record of achievement, the globalbridge platform is a great way for young people to evidence those skills, achievements and experiences that maybe future employers, colleges or universities have been looking for. It also allows businesses to connect with their future workforce through engagements in employability themed events like the globalbridge future stars event or via the promotion of opportunities such as apprenticeships, training or work experience opportunities.

If we can help to bridge the gap between schools, colleges, universities and industry, as globalbridge can do, we have a chance to level the playing field for young people, address the gaps that employers have identified, develop and support their skills and talents to improve society and give everyone the chance they deserve to succeed.

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