Clueless. This is exactly how I felt as I entered the world of employment and I know I’m not alone.
Having spent time developing my knowledge and skills since leaving school, I’ve realised how ill prepared I was for leaving full-time education. Whilst I worked hard at school to get the best grades I could, the skills I learnt seem like they may never be used, whilst the skills I’ve actually needed in the real world I’ve had to learn.
Industry has changed, students no longer enter into careers that will last their entire working lives, freelance roles and flexible working have become more common, along with working from home. Students need to be taught life skills within the secondary curriculum to better prepare them for life after school, along with skills-based teaching that can be transferred to any career.
There has been much research into the skills shortage in the UK, reflecting that both digital skills and soft skills are needed to succeed, and whilst there is already a large amount of pressure on teachers to deliver curriculum content, I believe it’s essential for students to learn the skills to succeed in everyday life if we are to have a workforce equipped for the future.
Personal finance should be compulsory
The amount of debt accumulated by young people is massive, particularly, and understandably, for university students. The younger generation need to understand finance and how to deal with the large amount of debt that could lay ahead. We have come to live in a world of credit and instant gratification. If people were encouraged from an early age to only buy what they need, as opposed to what they necessarily want, this may help aid the swallowing hole of debt that could spring their way – especially with uncertain times that may lay ahead.
Like many millennials the idea of owning my own home seems unlikely. Whilst I’ve been lucky enough to have parents that own their own home and who can advise me on how to go about saving and getting on the housing ladder, I know this isn’t available to all young people.
It seems that my knowledge on finance and banking has been gained from my parents, along with the internet – none of which I gained from my time in education. Tutor time could be effectively used to teach young adults about personal finance and help prepare them for leaving education with a good foundation to build on.
The joys of insurance
The more I learned about it, the more I realised just how unaware I was – it’s on everything! Your house, your car, your travel, etc and I was blissfully unaware of what I would have to face. By giving young people a basic understanding of insurance, it would prepare them for the literal unknown.
Skills not grades
Pupils spend so much time stressing about achieving the best grades to compete with others for places in employment, university etc – which is all well and good until you realise this could actually be damaging their confidence. Whilst I’m the first to admit that the competition doesn’t end after exams, many students can feel like they’re never going to be good enough. Teachers spend so much time drilling in the importance of exam results and grades that they forget that it’s not everything. Granted, students need to know that grades are fairly important but they also need to realise the importance of life and soft skills to employers. Students may leave school having not gotten the grades they’d hope and their self esteem shot to pieces, when in fact they possess a plethora of skills that employers look for.
Everyone has different skills and personally I believe that school doesn’t determine someone’s level of intelligence. There can be a great difference between a high-achieving student and a smart student. A smart student may not necessarily achieve good grades but has the potential to be amazing in something that schools do not allow the opportunity for them to express.
I believe most subjects merely test how good your memory is, rather than the level of knowledge you have on the subject.
Not everything revolves around academics
The rise in mental health issues are seeing massive evidence in young people. There is a lack of support for mental health in schools which consequently often stops people from speaking out. When individuals feel that they are alone and not part of the ‘norm’ in society with mental health, it is something that they are not inclined to share their feelings about. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn‘t exist and if this is made more aware in schools, I think people will not only speak out more, but others will also be aware and have an understanding of what their peers could be going through. Targeting this damaging factor from a young age could help prevent this worrying rise in mental health in young people.
With the implementation of different life skills etc. such as the ones I’ve proposed, I think the younger generation will feel a lot more confident when entering the real world of work and society as a whole.