I have now assumed responsibility for implementation of the Wood Commission recommendations on youth employment. I listened to Sir Ian Wood talking about his commission midway through the work of his group at a COSLA Round Table event I attended as Acting Director of Education and Lifelong Learning with our Education Convenor. I found his message compelling and the stories he told of young people and employment opportunities in this ‘brave new world’ affected me. He painted a picture of an education world that was stuck in a world of academic v vocational education resulting in countless young people missing out on exciting highly paid opportunities (eg in the oil industry amongst other areas) through what I interpreted as a ‘dyed in the wool’ approach to careers advice alongside narrow learning opportunities.
I reflected as he spoke on how much schools have done to embrace the Senior Phase in S4-6 and felt for secondary school staff who have worked tirelessly to update their skills, experience and thinking around the curriculum, yet may be working in a kind of school-centric bubble.
So tomorrow I’m off to the local college to talk about the regional outcome agreement and how we can work differently, together with schools, employers and Universities to design learning pathways that place vocational opportunities right up there with the old ‘gold standard’ of certain groups of Highers. We need to give our young people every possible support to not just survive (which can be hard enough) but thrive in a world that values and needs Scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical vocational routes to highly paid employment. Interestingly there are many many ‘fingers in the (Wood) pie’ within the Council. Anything with the tag of ‘reducing inequalities’ attached to it brings the ’employability’ or ‘economic development’ army out in force!
My job is never dull….