Jobs or Livelihoods?

For a long time I’ve felt that school has been too much training for ‘jobs’, and not enough preparing young people for adult life.  It felt like that when I was a school, and doesn’t seem to have changed for my children.  This view largely continues into college/university.

This may stem from the Education Act in 1944.  Originally this set up three types of school; grammar, technical and secondary modern.  I understand that the eleven plus exam was developed to produce these three streams of future employees in approximately the right proportions required by business and the post-war economy.

This philosophy of a centrally regulated economy has rather moved on – but the idea of school/college/university preparing one for getting a job has not.  It’s just that the job vacancies are no longer waiting to be taken.

Jobs waiting for applicants…

Because we are not providing young people with the right knowledge and experience to seek their own livelihood as an alternative to employment in an existing concern we have youth unemployment and frustration.

Several things have come together for me this week to think that we might be able to do something to change this.

The first was a negative; a conversation with a graduate in her mid-twenties really frustrated by failing to secure a job, despite having a good ‘hit’ rate for getting interviews and having studied a science subject – supposedly in high demand.

The second was another negative, talking with a humanities graduate, also unemployed and applying for jobs. As well as applying for advertised jobs, he was writing on spec and willing to do unpaid internships for experience – but so far got virtually nowhere.

The third was another humanities graduate who’d been a mature student.  He is finding he is now ‘over-qualified’ for the sorts of jobs he’d done previously.  The only businesses who seemed to want him were overseas.  He wanted to know why the UK was investing so much in education when our economy didn’t want the products of this investment.

The fourth was a conversation with someone about an idea I’ve been turning over for a while about getting creative people – and engineers in particular – together to think about solutions and inventions.  Derby’s strength has been in engineering and technology.  Many of our current environmental problems need technological solutions.  Can Derby and Derby’s engineers lead the way in the 21st century, as they have before?

The final one was reporting the above points to another contact, who told me about a course – offered free to adults – encouraging people to develop ‘portfolio careers’.  It consists of a number of units and leads to a “level 3″ qualification.

Can we bring all these elements together to provide a vibrant community opportunity for people to mix, exchange ideas, learn new things, help solve problems and create new economic opportunities?

If you think it might; share your thoughts!  If you’d like to help make it happen, get in touch!

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