The examination season is barely over and here we are starting another school and college year, with the Universities close behind. It’s the beginning of an important period, especially for those who will be sitting tests next summer which will go a long way to determining how successful they will be in the next stage of their lives into employment.
Recently I spoke to senior people at both our Universities about their approach to preparing students for the world of work. Teachers in all institutions are eager to engage with businesses to hear about what employers are wanting when it comes to skills. They are keen to put on courses that will deliver the best for the economy. But in some cases it’s a difficult and ever moving target. For example, I was told that much of what is learned in the early stages of a Physics degree may be out of date by the end of it.
Even with that daunting problem, it is possible to teach appropriate skills which will be of use to young people in the future. What I acknowledge is much more difficult is to instil the sort of attitude that our members regularly say is the thing they are really searching for.
What do they mean by that? Of course they want people with skills, but they want more than that. They are looking for people with a desire to do their best, to improve and develop over time, to be capable of working effectively with others and above all, to have the passion and enthusiasm to make a success of themselves and the business for which they are working.
Schools, Colleges and Universities have their work cut out just to steer students through the examination maze so it seems tough to expect them also to conjure up another element which is difficult, if not impossible to measure.
One solution is for businesses to be more involved in the process of education. Teachers are usually delighted to receive offers of help. That could be by joining governing bodies, volunteering to help with things like mock interviews or going to speak to young people about your business and experience. People could offer internships and work experience opportunities which go a long way to prepare people for work, adding real world experience to their learned skills to produce a winning combination that will be to everyone’s benefit.