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Vocational Route To Inspiring The Next Generation

7th September 2015

Judith Thorpe, Director of recruitment specialists Thorpe Molloy Recruitment and board member of Developing The Young Workforce in North East Scotland (DYW) explains how we can all play our part to inspire the next generation.

Did you know what you wanted to do when you "grew up"? If you did, you are one of the lucky few whose conviction gave you direction, guiding what you studied and the choices you made when you left secondary education. A combination of global mobility, an infinite number of careers to choose from and concerns over long-term job security (based on the choices you make now) can be overwhelming - for young people and their parents. Consequently the majority of young people don't have a clue where to start and won't know until they are inspired by someone or have a positive experience actively "doing" some form of work.

For decades there's been a perception that transitioning from secondary education to tertiary education is the best way to succeed in the job market. But there's now an exciting resurgence in vocational learning:

  • The Scottish government aspires to match the lowest rate of youth unemployment in Europe and, working alongside local authorities and Skills Development Scotland, is channelling funds into initiatives which will help to deliver the Youth Employment Strategy.
  • Employers, exasperated that school leavers are seriously unprepared for the world of work, are actively participating in the development of young people (and in the mid-long term, their own talent pools) by offering work placements, apprenticeships and vocational training.
  • A growing number of young people, disillusioned by the prospect of student debt and research such as Accenture Strategy's "Graduate Employment Survey", which reports the majority of recent graduates in employment have jobs that do not require a degree, are favouring apprenticeships or on the job training supported by college day release.

During the 20 years I've worked in recruitment the phrase I've heard most often from employers is probably "I'm looking for someone with the right qualifications and experience." Ah, the elusive "perfect" candidate. As an employer myself, I understand the need for employees who can "hit the ground running", but the obsession with experience has played its part in driving up rates of pay in a historically tight labour market. Equally, while qualifications in some professions are essential, I think we all know exceptional Qualified By Experience people too.

This month's Offshore Europe conference is entitled "How To Inspire The Next Generation." It sounds like an awe-inspiring undertaking doesn't it? But there's already a groundswell of activity and best practice initiatives across a wide range of local businesses to harness and build upon. Through modern apprenticeships, the Prince's Trust "Get Into" programmes, Investors in Young People, Career Ready and newly established Developing The Young Workforce (to name check only a few) there's a rich source of guidance and support for employers who are interested to employ a young person – providing a gateway to experience and qualification through vocational employment.

Give a young person insight to a future career through a positive work experience placement and you'll be helping to inspire the next generation too. To learn how easy this could be contact Sally Sweet (Aberdeen City) or Fraser Mitchell (Aberdeenshire), contact details within the newly launched work placement toolkit or forge a direct link with your local academy.

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