Claire Young - We're all in this together

Claire YoungThanks to my business School Speakers I’m in unique position. As an entrepreneur, I have daily access to the business world and, through working with schools across the country, I also see the demands on young people.

I have invaluable insight into the pressures placed on students, their questions about the future and, ultimately, what it takes for them to be successful.

The world is moving quickly. Technology is changing the employment landscape at a pace many find hard to comprehend. Technology’s breakneck speed also means teachers are preparing students for jobs that currently don’t yet exist.

As teachers, parents and business owners we are all in this together. The younger generation will one day be paying our pensions (we hope!). So, how do we prepare our bright eyed and bushy tailed teenagers for the big world of work?

At schools

The government states that every child should leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. This is a fairly wide brief and also a very subjective one.

From my experience in schools I have seen good, bad and ugly careers information, advice and guidance.

In my opinion for the government’s pledge to be of real value to young people it needs to be more specific, with key actions detailed and endorsed.

I suggest every student receives the following:

  • Access to objective, and informed careers advice so that teenagers know all their possible options after school. This would also help social mobility. It would enable young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to see that there are various accessible and achievable work routes in life.

    Information needs to be unbiased and delivered by careers professionals. For example, there seems to be an automatic default that going to university is the best, and the only career option after mainstream school. However, academic studying is not for everyone. Those who have vocational skills may wish to do an apprenticeship.

    Plus the cost of university can be prohibitive for many.

    I think http://www.notgoingtouni.co.uk/ is an excellent resource for students looking at options outside of university.
  • Access to careers platforms such as U Explore where they can look at various careers, watch job videos, ask questions of experts and gain an understanding of what a specific job is about. This website also allows young people to build a ‘passport’ of their skills, likes and their dislikes. It also suggests various jobs which they may be matched for.
  • A completed CV and to have experienced a mock job interview.

At home

I think it’s all too easy for everyone to blame schools and teachers when things don’t go right. They are an easy scapegoat. Real success happens when schools and homes work together.

As a parent ask yourself about your child’s future career options. Are you interested? Are you informed? Are you being fair?

I use the example of apprenticeships. Somewhere along the way, apprenticeships became the ugly sister and going to university the fairy-tale option.

There are still negative perceptions around apprenticeships, such as: ‘smart people go to university, dumb ones do an apprenticeship’. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are over 200 different apprenticeship schemes available and some higher-level apprenticeships will take you to university (and often the employer will pay the fees).

I feel that 2017 is the year of the apprentice. UK business needs to embrace the wealth of talent that our young people possess in order to build our future economy.

Business owners

The economy needs business growth and to do that we need a strong work force. It is in everyone’s best interests to invest in young people. We can’t expect them to know what to do unless we show them, train them and inspire them.

Giving students access to role models in critical. I’m believe in the mantra: ‘you can’t be what you don’t see’. Imagine the change in dynamics if every business, including SMEs, supported being a role model to schools.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Can you visit your local school and do a careers talk?
  • Can you offer a work experience placement to a young person?
  • Can you offer an apprenticeship scheme?

I really like the campaign ‘Three Minute Hero’. It aims for every young person to access careers advice from those who’ve been through the journey themselves - you!

About the author

Claire Young was made famous by her role as the highly driven runner up of series four of ‘The Apprentice’ where was dubbed a ‘Rottweiler’ by Lord Sugar for her tenacious approach in the boardroom and drive not to quit. She beat 40,000 candidates to reach the final and this experience inspired Claire to set up her own business ‘School Speakers’. It is now the UK’s No 1 speaking agency working with schools, colleges and universities to provide talks to students. She works within the media as a journalist & radio presenter in addition to advising the government on projects which help young people and women, into business. She has been nominated for the Queen’s Enterprise Award twice. In 2015 she was named ‘Business Person of the Year’ at Wakefield District Business Awards, has won the coveted ‘Forward Ladies Women in Business Award’ 2015 for her business School Speakers and a ‘Mumpreneur 2015’ award. She combines her busy career with being a mum to her daughter Eva.


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Supporting the government’s ‘Digital by Default’ strategy we’re keen everyone has the skills and confidence to use IT. Here, we share thoughts on a variety of digital matters.

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