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“Bridging the Gap” between Education and Employment

Written by Matt Desmier, DLSW Regional Partner, Digital Leaders South West

On Thursday 30th June, Digital Leaders SW (Bournemouth) hosted another salon, this time centred around the subject of ‘Education’ and welcomed two great speakers to get the conversation started – Ian Fordham and Nathan Thomas.

Ian Fordham was first to speak at the evening’s salon. Ian is Co-Founder of The Education Foundation, the UK’s first independent, cross sector, education think tank. Launched 2011, The Education Foundation has a singular mission: to accelerate reform and innovation across the UK, to help Britain create a world class education system. And they do this by focusing their work in three key areas: education reform, technology and innovation.

Ian offered his insight into the school curriculum and the elements that he believes could be improved, such as digital and computing centred learning. The room concurred that the correct inclusion of this learning would equip young people with a more relevant education for the future. Discussion then progressed onto a potential starting point for the conurbation to improve education through extra-curricular digital-centred activities.

Conversation then progressed onto parents’ unfamiliarity with “digital”. The issue being that parents are not informed enough to support their child’s learning outside of the classroom.

Finally, Ian brought to our attention the importance of “bridging the gap” between education and employment. He gestured at cities who had improved their education system in recent years, highlighting the New York Tech Talent Pipeline as a primary example. He used the following analogy to demystify the problem:

“Think of the education-to-employment system as a motorway, where three drivers — educators, employers, and young people — all want to get to the same destination. There are three critical intersections — when young people enrol in postsecondary education, when they build skills, and when they seek work.

At every point, each driver needs to take account of the others to keep moving safely and efficiently. Our research, however shows that doesn’t usually happen. Instead, drivers don’t take another into account, proceeding obliviously in their own lanes, or they collide, leaving everyone worse off than when they started.”

Then Nathan took to the stage. Nathan is an ex-KISS FM radio producer whose latest project is called BOSS:Talks. Using his production skills, coupled with the contacts and insights gained from a day job going into schools teaching young people how to build podcasts, BOSS:Talks is a series of podcasts where bosses of creative and digital agencies are interviewed by school children. The aim is to understand how exciting this sector is, what working in this environment really means and what skills the businesses are actually looking for.

Nathan’s talk complimented Ian’s words as he spoke about the importance of initiatives such as BOSS:Talks in “bridging the gap” between education and employment. Nathan was praised for his ambition and enthusiasm and discussion was raised around encouraging similar methods to educate young people on vocational studies and career opportunities.

BOSS:Talks has been a success with both young people and employers. The salon attendees discussed the importance of young people making informed decisions at a young age. Introducing more initiatives could be vital to young people understanding what talent specific industries are searching for and hiring. The room agreed that making young people, educators and parents aware of BOSS:Talks and similar projects will certainly be a step in the right direction.

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