COMMENT: Businesses and educators must come together to mind the skills gap

COMMENT: Businesses and educators must come together to mind the skills gap

By Admin | 24/02/2020

COMMENT: Businesses and educators must come together to mind the skills gap


EQUIPPED with hope, ambition and a dream of pursuing their chosen career, each year thousands of youngsters will leave full-time education, determined to make their mark on the world.

At the same time, businesses are looking to fill skills gaps. It should be a perfect partnership. So why do so many young people find difficulties in securing the opportunities they dream of, and why are employers struggling to fill vacancies?

From the industries which have fuelled our local economy for generations, to businesses working at the cutting edge of innovation, there is no shortage of chances for young people to build successful careers. But ask any business owner what it’s like trying to recruit a new member of staff and they will have their own story about the difficulties they have faced.

Some candidates will turn up for interviews, others won’t. Some will consider an early morning start as optional, others will sacrifice their future careers by pulling the inevitable sickie, only to post pictures of their heavy night on social media. Others… well others just disappear for no apparent reason. It can be an incredibly frustrating experience.

The next generation are as ambitious as ever and if we want our young people to succeed in the workplace, businesses must continue to equip them with the vital skills needed to thrive. Entering the workplace for the first time isn’t just about the money, it’s often the skills which are developed along the way: teamwork, time management, resilience and much more.

The days of paper rounds and Saturday jobs, when young people often get their first taste of working life are disappearing. According to one recent report, just one in four 16-17 years give up their weekends in search of extra cash compared with nearly half in 1999.

Ofsted recently introduced new measures to inspect the quality of careers guidance available in schools. It’s a step in the right direction and hopefully will encourage our young people to think about their futures. But this responsibility cannot fall solely on our education providers. Businesses must also play their role.

As a former teacher, I’m passionate about helping our young people to succeed. There are some great initiatives being pioneered by individual schools and colleges throughout the region. Members of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber are often more than happy to help our youngsters learn about the types of careers available on their doorstep, as well as getting involved with a range of activities, from conducting mock interviews to work experience.

However, it can be the luck of draw as to whether our children will be given these opportunities. The success of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, has once placed careers advice in the spotlight and every business in Rotherham can, and should, play a role in helping the next generation to succeed.

Rotherham’s Enterprise Adviser network, which is operated by RiDO, helps to prepare young people for the work. If you run a business in Rotherham, I would encourage you to support this fantastic initiative you can find out more by visiting:

By President of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber, Joada Allen