Tag Archives: education

Apprenticeships and The Apprentice the answer to jobs creation

To kick of Apprentice Week, Business Secretary Vince Cable is to announce the UK Government is committing £1.4bn to Apprenticeships in 2011.

This is a great move and part of an overall strategy to encourage 100,000 additional apprenticeships by 2014.  This at a time when UK Manufacturing is growing at record rates and 70% of employers in a recent survey claiming skill shortages as one of the biggest barriers to future growth.

Apprenticeships have been undervalued and undermined for years.  For too long successive Governments have espoused the virtues of higher and further education to the detriment of practical, hands on learning, giving Apprenticeships second class status.  They are not.  They are of enormous value.

Not everybody is academic, but everybody has something to offer.  If you are practically minded, the opportunity to further your career with a combination of practical skills and theoretical learning is not to be dismissed.

Apprenticeships are crucial to encourage the skills needed to facilitate future growth and to ensure the UK has the skills we need to remain competitive globally.  The more done to encourage those best suited as to the virtues of such a pursuit the better.

At the same time Entrepreneurship is also essential to encourage the creation of jobs.  This is one area of Economic policy that is yet to be sufficiently addressed by Government.  Sure, the rhetoric is that we cannot afford tax cuts.  Can we afford not to?

Business is mobile.  If you do not create the conditions, the environment, in which talented people with great ideas are encouraged to start business, this essential fuel of economic prosperity will soon start to dry up.

Don’t get me wrong, the successful entrepreneur will find a way to make his or her’s business work regardless of the circumstances.  It is that determination regardless of circumstances that contributes to their success.  That is my point, if it can’t be done here, if it is easier to do elsewhere, then elsewhere it will be done.

Who will create the jobs, the Apprenticeships of tomorrow?

Todays announcement is a great step in the right direction.  Encourage Apprenticeships and encourage The Apprentice.  The next generation of Lord Sugar‘s are just as essential to future prosperity as the skilled trades.

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Positive role models required to inspire a generation

According to statistics from the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, the number of long-term youth unemployed (aged 16 to 25) in Britain now stands at 342,000 (although this number is falling, albeit only slightly, but falling nonetheless).  Perhaps most striking is the fact that the youth unemployment rate stands at 17.3%, against 6.4% for those aged 25 to 49 is now 6.4% and 4.5% for those aged 50 or older.  Youth unemployment has risen more in the last two years, at a rate of 5.1 percentage points for young people, than any other category (the figure is 2.5 points for those aged 25 to 49 and 1.7 points for the over-50s).  Of this group of long-term unemployed, young men represent the significant majority.

We are not quite gambling away the future prosperity of UK plc.  However we are at risk of raising a generation of disaffected young men, wasting a huge amount of talent and opportunity as a consequence, let alone the drain that this is placing on the state in unemployment benefits and missed tax revenues from those out of work.

There is no quick fix to what is a long-term social problem.  However fix it we must.  The answer lies in education.  Not just education in the academic sense, but in raising awareness, opening eyes as to the opportunities by recruiting positive role models with whom young people can engage.

There are countless examples of successful people who have come from disadvantaged backgrounds in economically deprived areas.  Many I am sure would be only to willing to go back to those areas in which they grew up, to give of their time to inspire young people, to educate, to raise awareness of just what can be achieved.

Success means different things to different people.  I am not just talking about people who have created their own material wealth.  Positive role models come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds.  Such a scheme should extend to those in public service, Fireman, Nurses, Soldiers.  They should come from Churches, from Sport, from the Media, from Industry.  It can be the CEO of a large Corporation, the Team Leader in a call centre, the foreman in a factory, the electrician, the plumber, the mechanic.

It really doesn’t matter who they are and what they do.  What matters is the story.  Where they came from, the journey they took to get them to where they are today.  Real life stories, real experiences, something that young people can relate to.

Whilst we need help from Politicians to create the frameworks through education, apprenticeships, incentives for employers to hire young people, it is not the Politicians who will provide the inspiration.  Find a way to engage with the people who can really transform lives, who can provide the inspiration, who come from the communities that need help.  Start with the schools and youth centres and encourage our young people to see the very real opportunities that are available to them.  People will do it, will give of their time to share their experiences.  Lets give them the platform to inspire a generation.

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Eastern Promise

The balance of economic power has been shifting across the globe for some time, East in the direction of India and China and to South America with the rising global force that is Brazil.  To date this has had minimal impact on talent pools in the G7, the traditional powerhouses of the global economy.  Could this be about to change?

China recently released its National Outline for Medium and Long Term Talent Development (2010 – 2020).  In the document, talent refers to those with “certain professional knowledge or special skills, who are able to do “creative” work and make a contribution to society”.

The document highlights just how China intends to reform and develop its human capital over the next 10 years and addresses how it proposes to evaluate and manage talent across all spectrums of Chinese society.  Also highlighted are the key areas for investment and where the need for talent is most keenly felt.  In the next 10 years China needs more than 5 million individuals in the following areas;

Equipment Manufacturing

IT

Biotechnology

New Materials

Aeronautics and Astronautics

Oceanography

Finance and Accounting

International Business

Environmental Protection

Energy Resources

Agriculture Technology

Modern Traffic and Transportation

It will also need a further 7 million professionals in;

Education

Political Science and Law

Medicine and Health

Publicity and Cultural Information

Disaster Prevention

In order to facilitate this there will be a massive focus on education.  More than 20% of the labour force is to receive higher education as the country transitions from a labour – intensive nation to one that is driven by talent.

President Hu Jintao –

“Talent is the most important resource and it is a key issue that concerns the development of the Party and country”.

The challenge for the rest of the world is how it responds to both the opportunity and threat.  Between 1978 and 2006 over 1 million Chinese Students studied overseas, more than 70% of whom did not return home.  The number of Chinese born professionals living in the US and Europe has grown to such an extent that the Chinese Economy has an enormous talent pool to tap in to from beyond its borders, as well as a huge resource of home grown talent.

This has the potential to cause huge issues for talent attraction and retention for Chinas competitors.  The talent pool has gotten ever more mobile.  The world has become a smaller, much more accessible place and long may this continue.  As a consequence opportunity is global.

Business and Political Leaders need to be thinking now about education, talent development, engagement, environment and opportunities that can be created in order that an already stretched talent pool does not become ever more barren.  Taking our talent for granted will cause much pain for future generations.

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Cut business taxes, encourage entrepreneurs and business investment, create jobs and wealth, increase the tax take and hey presto a recovery!

If only it were really that simple!  I am a glass half full kind of guy, one who believes that the good will eventually rise to the top.  However I am concerned that there is the very real risk of a “jobless” recovery, or at least another 12 months before we will see any semblance of growth in the jobs market. Despite marginally improving economic conditions, in my experience employers are incredibly cautious about making external hiring decisions, preferring to look at the internal resource first. I suspect that as conditions improve we will see the inevitable rise in temporary and interim opportunities are employers remain reluctant to commit to permanent hires.

I am also concerned that whilst corporates show some signs of a return to stability, SME’s, the lifeblood of the economy, are still finding credit conditions such that it is virtually impossible to secure funding for growth. We also have the looming spectre of HMRC calling in the billions of pounds outstanding in PAYE and VAT under time to pay arrangements. This has proved a lifeline for many, plugging the funding gap that banks traditionally would have funded. However for some businesses this scheme has delayed the inevitable and I am concerned we will have a swathe of insolvency in the first quarter of next year as HMRC turns up the heat to improve cash in the public purse.

We also have a government, regardless of political persuasion, that must make cuts in the overbloated public sector whilst minimising the impact on front line services.  This I am afraid will clearly impact on jobs.  In order that we have a robust recovery, we must invest in education and innovation and reduce business taxation and the regulatory burden on businesses.

Research proves that cutting business taxes to encourage entrepreneurship and investment creates wealth through creating jobs.  This of course increases the amount of tax going back in to the public purse and as a result investment in public services.  All of which are critical to ensure we drive down unemployment, get great people back in the workplace and give the economy a robust platform for future growth.  This needs to happen fast.  On reflection, it really does seem that simple!

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