Kids today: Can’t work, won’t work?

As youth unemployment tops one million, research from recruitment company Adecco shows that employers are beginning to believe that some youngsters are actually unemployable. Listen to this: “The research reveals that 73% of employers believe that a ‘permanent underclass’ is emerging within UK society which threatens to exacerbate ongoing problems of skills shortages. This feeling is echoed amongst UK workers, with 84% of UK employees fearing the development of a ‘permanent underclass.’ Not pretty is it? But how much of this is down to perception and how much of it down to fact?  To their credit Adecco is asking business leaders to put their money where their mouth is and start doing something about it. The first step is a big get-together in London in February, called Unlocking Britain’s Potential where bosses and recruiters will discuss how employers can support schools and colleges to ensure that teenagers don’t leave school without the skills needed to cope with the world of work. In the mean time schools seem to be shouldering ever more blame for not turning every school leaver into either a potential Richard Branson or Prof Mary Beard.  Naked ambition is quite a recent addition to the school curriculum: When I was growing up it was considered quite hoity-toity to aspire to becoming an air hostess. I can’t claim to be an expert but from my view as a parent with two children in primary school and two in secondary school I don’t buy the idea that schools are simply leaving children to go feral. Our children’s primary school actively encourages parents and other volunteers to help children with one-to-one reading sessions (find out more at The National Literacy Trust and other schools nearby benefit hugely from a gentle but hugely effective one-woman band which helps get parents reading with their children).  It’s called Ampersand Learning and runs workshops for parents, teachers and PTAs to get us all reading. Sometimes all we need is a bit of oomph and the right book. If you ask me you can’t go wrong with Lauren Child’s Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent, the story of a little boy brought up by eccentric millionaires… Let me know what you think – are we raising a generation of unemployable children? And if so what should we do about it? And don’t forget to like KidStart on Facebook to help BBC Children in Need!