A Burton business chief has made a scathing attack on the narrow range of skills youngsters have on leaving school.
Burton and District Chamber president and managing director of the Yee Group Simon Chapman hit out after a centrepiece of his presidential tenure after being appointed in May last year was to ensure that children left education with more skills.
He said: “It seemed fitting to me to make this statement when lots of young people will have just been getting their GCSE results and thinking about their next steps. The chamber is the voice for business and I am concerned for the future productivity of Burton’s key businesses if we don’t get our young people developing the skills needed to complement and enhance their academic achievements.
“I’m not blaming young people at all as the guidance they get seems biased in some instances but we need to ensure that they and their parents understand the true range of options available to them when they leave school. A-levels aren’t the only option. Technical or vocational courses at college or an apprenticeship route need to also be at the forefront of thinking for those leaving secondary education.”
Reacting to the comments by Mr Chapman, Dawn Ward, chief executive and principal of Burton and South Derbyshire College agreed with his stance.
She said: “At Burton and South Derbyshire College we focus on the whole individual and not solely on their qualification. Our skills promise ensures that every learner who studies with us has the necessary soft and business skills to thrive in their chosen career pathway.
“This, partnered with our industry leading curriculum, ensures that our learners are business ready when they graduate and can offer the complete skills package to local companies. It is not by accident that the college is an active member of the Burton and district Chamber. Skills and business go hand in hand and we recognise that at Burton and South Derbyshire College.”
When asked about how young people can get advice on developing these skills, Mr Chapman said: “Find out how you can differentiate yourself by expanding on your qualifications and gaining additional business critical skills. Speak to Burton and South Derbyshire College, speak to businesses to establish what skills they really want and focus on your whole skill-set and the right learning route for you.
“But, above all, don’t think that a traditional academic route is the only option. There are different ways of achieving your career goals and these aren’t always through a sixth form in a school. Technical or vocational careers are rewarding, interesting and pay incredibly well. Make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of all of the options before you and choose the one that will give you the skills needed to enter into a prosperous career and, importantly, to make an impact to your employer from day one.”