Prepare our children for employment

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Written by Barry Johnson on 13 June 2018

I recognise that some politicians are awake in parliament. Esther McVey, the Pensions Secretary, said teenage employment is vital if Britain is to provide more resilient home-grown workers after Brexit.

This was the result of reports from immigration advisors that British workers were perceived to be less hard working and had much higher absenteeism than European immigrants. Some employers had concerns that young British workers are not ambitious or resilient enough. She did point out we British had record numbers of people employed, and nine out of ten are British. 

What a way to start a blog. I must admit such statements are disappointing but not surprising. How can it be otherwise with our secondary schools wedded to a classical education structure and not to a progressive society verging on the fourth industrial revolution? Yes, we need a general education but teaching what?

History can be a great example of preparation for employment. The author did ‘O’ Level Social and Economic History 1715 to 1914 at grammar school. No faffing around with kings and queens. I understood how industrial law, employment practices, social services, the economics of the UK and the ideas of taxation emerged.

In the current technological base of businesses advancing at an accelerating rate, young people must have the ability to respond fluidly to change.

This was a foundation for my employment. I am often amazed how people lack understanding of the foundations of industry and social services.

In the current technological base of businesses advancing at an accelerating rate, young people must have the ability to respond fluidly to change. For that, we need to prepare learners for 4IR adequately, or risk stifling entrepreneurial spirit and ambition that makes Britain internationally competitive and culturally vibrant.

Industry needs to play its role. We sponsor students for degrees and train apprentices, and at both levels, the learners start with A levels and GCSE subjects that barely relate to the foundation necessary to obtain necessary skills and qualifications.

When a manager, in management and general training I used to run ‘Understanding Industry’ sessions for sixth formers in their schools and run company visits for teachers. The teachers, in general, did not recognise our professional engineers had honours and master’s degrees and PhDs.


The average secondary school pupil/student has computer operating skills though desktops, laptops and mobile phones but how much technology do they understand? They will go into an industry that produces goods and services to make a profit to pay them.

How much economics do they know? Then they will pay tax and hear politicians wax lyrically about GDP, and an older relation raising a mortgage to buy a property. Where does that bundle of real-life schooling sit in education?

Does your company help by employing 13+ year-olds at weekends or pre-7pm, so they get a feel for work, the organisation and the society? It will need somebody from L&D to ensure necessary skills and knowledge.

Or will you be ducking like school teachers avoiding the reality of modern learning need?


About the author

Barry Johnson BA, CMCIPD, MCMI, is a non-executive director at Learning Partners Ltd



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