I have just watched ITV’s Tonight programme (Thursday 19th April) Why isn’t Britain working? and was struck by the sentiments expressed by business owners and employers about our young people. Apparently over 52% of school leavers haven’t got ‘human skills’ i.e. can’t make eye contact, have bad posture or attitude, can’t communicate, don’t value time keeping or punctuality and lack self esteem and self confidence.  How can we be letting our young people down so spectacularly?

We can’t put all the blame on them, they are what they’ve lived and learnt. We can see the system of education and parenting we’re using isn’t working …. It’s time to change.  This absolutely emphasises the need for ‘Life Skills’ to be taught at an early age at home and in schools.  Back Pack Free Friday is coming up May 4th to highlight and bring awareness to the imbalance between academic success and personal development and the programme tonight showed clearly how vital it is to redress the balance.

Deborah Meaden (from tv’s Dragon’s Den) pointed out that a lot of young people are expected to be able to join the work force and behave in ways that haven’t been reinforced before then. Suddenly expected to be puntual, organized, be good at time keeping. She also claimed that too much emphasis is put on academic achievement. It’s clear that the education system isn’t teaching enough to prepare our children for a life beyond school. Let’s get Life Skills firmly on the curriculum.

It seems our young people leave school ill prepared for life and work and then find themselves on employability skills training courses. I train people who come on these courses, in the ‘soft skills’ that have been omitted from the school curriculum. Confidence building, self esteem and assertiveness, effective communication, the fundamental skills needed to flourish and be part of a community or work force. Someone on the programme talked about these training courses as “Shaping the raw human potential” surely that would be much better done a lot earlier and as part of the education system, prior to leaving school and looking for work!There was emphasis on a ‘good quality education’ to help solve this problem, yet the definition of ‘good quality’ not stipulated. I believe a ‘good quality education’ is an holistic one, addressing all aspects of personal growth and improvement.