As a nation, we are seriously exposed to a failure to equip our school leavers for life and the work place.
Too many young adults are unable to meet the expectations of employers and are trying to enter the workplace with deficiencies in “literacy, numeracy, communication skills, poor self management and low levels of customer awareness”, according to a recent CBI survey.
Last week, the same organisation called for the scrapping of GCSE exams, an expansion of new vocational qualifications, increasing the provision of apprenticeships and addressing skills shortages in a number of areas not least engineering, science and IT.
In essence Cardiff’s City Deal application for central and local government funding will have a two tier focus.
Firstly, to select the right type of infrastructure to create economic and employment growth opportunities.
Secondly, as the Capital City Region contains the UK’s largest population with dependency costs of £4bn per annum then rationalising the welfare expense and bloated support systems of this legacy will need to be adopted in preparing a compelling fiscal bottom line offer to UK Treasury.
In other words, good governance in preparing the bid will ensure that business and public sector join up to address local circumstances, shape priorities and deliver infrastructure for businesses to flourish and generate more GVA.
Simultaneously, we can create additional fiscal dividends by reducing benefit dependence and promoting productivity.
Against this background, we have some fundamental issues on our door step with a significant number of under performing secondary schools, and a growing population of NEETS (young people who are not in education, employment or training).
So, whilst it is imperative to be ambitious and seek to invest in our city’s infrastructure to attract and grow our pool of employers, this will be in vain if underneath it all we are unable to provide our youth with the necessary skills to avoid inevitable worklessness.
Business has a powerful role to play in lowering unemployment but issues arise when young job seekers’ skills are insufficient or do not meet employer’s requirements.
Raising or realigning skill levels is crucial but requires reforms to education and training systems.
Additionally, government agencies, local businesses and further education establishments need to engage to match qualified applicants with vacant positions.
Otherwise, businesses tend to act single handedly when scarcity of fresh talent becomes too acute to bear.
All of this seems a daunting task but starts with our schools and the need to preserve the 3R’s but also introduce the 3E’s, Entrepreneurship, Enterprise and Employment as key objectives.
Data compiled from the categorisation of Cardiff schools indicates that out of 69 schools, 25 fall in to the “need for improvement” definition whilst the remainder are deemed to be “effective”.
Business call to join school board of governors
Regardless of this status, all of these could benefit significantly from an infusion of support by strengthening links with businesses through a presence on their boards of governors.
To this end, Cardiff City Council and the Cardiff Business Council have embarked on a campaign to recruit 120 governors on to the Boards of these schools to introduce private sector disciplines and business ideas and assist with raising standards, setting overall direction, monitoring performance and ensuring our youth is prepared for the world of work.
This worthy initiative is not to undermine the substantial contribution undertaken by numerous companies in the Capital Region, but to complement and coordinate with them the objectives of securing a positive future for generations to come.
If you would like to apply to become a school governor and make a difference by bringing experience and leadership click here.
Or Tel: 02920 872714
Frank Holmes is a founder partner of Gambit Corporate Finance, a leading advisory firm specialising in mergers and acquisitions and fund raising in the UK and overseas, with offices in Cardiff and London.
To view the Wales Online article click here.