Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Three Rivers Business Forum

This morning I attended the Three Rivers Business forum at +West Herts College. Thanks to Renato Messere for the invitation.

I was more fortunate than most the college is a short 200 metre walk for me, for others a 3 hour rush hour (excuse the pun) expedition through cold, foggy, roadwork ridden traffic.

For those wondering just what the big hole is outside the Watford Registry Office it was a gas leak. Now fixed and the work starts filling the hole in. I stopped to enquire this morning, the gang there at the moment are 'allowed' to fill the hole to about 12 inches from the top, then the tarmac team must come along and complete the task... I just hope it gets done today... lots of frustration out there.
The Agenda for the meeting today is here... the primary goals were to outline the skills situation in Hertfordshire, take a look at an online free service that helps businesses navigate the education framework and an update on what is happening with apprenticeships.

The Skills overview presentation contained a lot of statistics but I'm unsure how these figures can really translate into meaningful actions on the ground... more of a yardstick of interest I feel. Please do take a look at the Skillsmaker site... the document on the right has the web address... do let me know what you think...

Lastly Louise Thurston from West Herts College gave us an overview of how the apprenticeships will look going forward.

Basically there is a levy coming in which will be obligatory for companies with more than a £3 million wage bill. This money is to be used for funding apprenticeships. Companies of all sizes are able to tap into the apprenticeship schemes the training costs of which will be mostly born by the government.

The idea is that for many roles in society that still require a large element of training, this can be provided on the job, in work, and that the tab isn't picked up by the student. The student in many cases is also through this new scheme able to pick up a qualification equivalent to GCSE, A Level, Undergraduate, Batchelor or Masters degree... without the fees.

Companies have to take on an Apprentice for a minimum of a year + 1 day but the idea of the scheme is to provide companies with an employee who is getting to a certain extent vocation related specific training which hopefully leads on to longer term employment.

I can't help feeling though that we're missing the whole point. The entire rhetoric is about what employers want and how they want the students to fit into their world. Nowhere did I hear what do the students want to do? ... The trouble we have with many business owners is that they don't know what they don't know... unless they re-commence innovation and creation they will lose their businesses to more agile operators who have either embraced technology or innovated new solutions, or both, in any event the game is up... change is upon us.

Business owners need to innovate, young people need to be encouraged to re-energise their creativity and problem solving skills, in other words... encouraged to find their own way. This morning I heard about what is being done to make it easy for young people... being sent bus timetables... alternatives if that bus doesn't show... other options... all designed to take away their need to be responsible.

I can't help feeling we are contributing to making our young people helpless, and dependent. We don't need to do this. What we could be doing is inspiring them to discover what works for them. Discover what makes them get out of bed in the morning... find the bus... show up... no matter how easy you make something if they don't want to do it, or the proposition is not exciting then we're wasting everyone's time.

Of course this isn't something that can be changed instantly nor would it be applicable to all, but there is a real need to begin the process of innovating and creating our future. For this to happen we need to look to the young people. There are alternatives ways to do things if we get our thinking caps on. Providing the space to 'create', rather than just blindly follow (without questioning) what has gone before ought to be high on our priority list.

Everyone in the room today was there with the intention to help and provide a good future for the young of today. We do need to start questioning what we're doing in my opinion... maybe we need to trust our young and start asking them to tell us what they want to do... ?

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