Nat West, 02, P&G, Bosch, Tata Steel, Citi, QinetiQ, Sage and the Institute of Directors are among 188 companies and business organisations today (Oct 11) demanding that employability and entrepreneurship education should be placed within the statutory curriculum in UK schools.
They have signed up to the Young Enterprise Charter which warns that the Coalition’s pressure on schools to focus education onto core academic skills will not improve young people’s employability.
The Charter was launched in May 2011 to highlight growing concern across industry that Education Secretary Michael Gove’s decision to narrow the curriculum could damage the economy.
Companies who back the Charter feel young recruits emerging from education increasingly lack ‘employability’ skills such as a readiness to accept responsibility, business and customer awareness, problem solving, the ability to apply abstract knowledge and a positive attitude.
Currently Young Enterprise gives 250,000 young people from the ages of 4 to 25 a year the opportunity to learn these skills at first hand from 5,000 volunteers from 3,500 businesses. Some 30,000 older ones even get the chance to run their own real businesses for a year on the Company and Start-up Programmes.
Ian Smith, chairman of Young Enterprise, said: ‘’The response to the Young Enterprise Charter has been astonishing. The line-up of businesses, organisations and individuals who have backed our call for enterprise education to be made part of the National Curriculum cannot be ignored.”
‘’These companies agree with us that the decision by the Department of Education to adopt a narrower curriculum, with History, English and Maths centre stage, is worrying. We fully support high academic standards. But too heavy a focus on the purely academic approach runs the risk of downgrading other learning styles.
‘’What we see in the Government’s approach is an alarming lack of focus on the skills, attitudes and behaviours that young people actually need to be successful in their working lives. Skills like teamwork, presentation, reliability, honesty, integrity, and punctuality, which employers like me look for when taking on new recruits.
‘’So the message to Mr Gove is that Young Enterprise doesn’t deserve exclusion from the curriculum, because we can actually promote success in the classroom, as well as being an enabler for the achievements of young people in their chosen careers.”
‘’And my message to business is no less critical. I am utterly fed up of sitting in business meetings listening to people complaining, trying to blame their own failures on the attitude of the British worker, and particularly young people entering employment.”
‘’If you want to change it, don’t just sit in meetings moaning, get yourself and your employees out amongst young people as business mentors, Get involved – there are plenty of opportunities in Young Enterprise to begin to inspire the next generation, and we have the tools to help you do that.’’
What the Young Enterprise Charter says:
We, the undersigned:
- believe that the future of the UK economy depends on our ability to equip young people with the skills, attitudes and aspirations they will need to succeed as tomorrow’s enterprising employees, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Through working together to invest in young people now, we will drive long term economic growth and increase the competitiveness of the UK in the global economy.
- recognise that Young Enterprise has the unparalleled experience, expertise and a history of proven impact to lead the drive for a better skilled UK workforce by connecting business, educators and young people to inspire each other through enterprise.
- strongly support Young Enterprise’s conviction that all young people, must be given opportunities to:
- Gain experience of entrepreneurship during their time in education and beyond.
- Develop the employability skills, behaviours and attitudes they need to succeed in work.
- Be empowered to shape the future of business and enterprise in the UK.
We call for:
1. Government to prioritise and support outstanding enterprise education in schools, colleges and universities; business, employability and entrepreneurship education to be placed within the statutory curriculum.
2. Employers to acknowledge the crucial role they can play in the development of their future workforce and to support, nurture and enable staff to volunteer time to pass on their business experience and skills to the next generation; 10,000 volunteer days to be dedicated to enterprise education during 2011/12.
3. Schools, colleges and universities to value and facilitate opportunities for young people of all ages to take part in stimulating enterprise activities throughout their educational journey; another 500 schools, colleges and Universities to commit to a dramatic increase in their employer engagement during 2011/12.
We pledge to invest time, talent and financial resource to bring about the step change required to ensure that the next generation of young people have the enterprise skills and inspiration needed to drive the UK economy forward.