Tuesday, 5 February 2013


"Young people today are three times as likely as their parents to be out of work. Yet many employers can’t find people with the right entry-level skills to fill their jobs." How do we close the gap?

You should read the report but they have also produced this video where McKinsey directors Diana Farrell and Mona Mourshed share insights from their research with 8,000 stakeholders. The video also profiles two innovative organisations—one in India and one in the United States—that are pioneering new approaches to successfully transition greater numbers of students from education into employment. You can watch the video at http://mckinseyonsociety.com/education-to-employment/video/

We are developing a programme to address these issues in Sheffield but while we all recognise that education-to-employment solutions like the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" programme need to be scaled up but there are three challenges to achieving scale: 
  • constraints on the resources of education providers, such as finding qualified and interested staff and the pressure from OFSTED and DfE; 
  • insufficient opportunities to provide young people with hands-on project-based learning; and 
  • the hesitancy of employers to invest in training unless it involves the specialised skills they are going to need. 
The report suggest that there are solutions for each of these challenges. In the first instance, coupling technology and a skills based curriculum offer can help to supplement staff expertise and spread consistent instruction at a modest cost. For the second challenge, apprenticeships traditionally have provided hands-on experience, but there are not enough spaces to meet demand and we need to start earlier. Technology, in the form of “serious games” and other kinds of simulations, can help here, too, by offering tailored, detailed, practical experience to large numbers at a comparatively low cost. Serious-game simulation could become the apprenticeship of the 21st century. In a sense, the future of hands-on learning may well be hands-off. Third, employers often are willing to invest only in those specialised skills whose value they can fully capture; they do not want to spend money on employees who might take their expertise elsewhere. But for providers, it is expensive to develop solutions for every employer. One proven approach is to combine customisation and scale by offering a skills based curriculum which can be complemented by employer-specific top- ups. This is exactly what we are trying to do in Sheffield working with the Cutlers' Company, the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust six secondary schools, two colleges, two universities and the City Council. Happy to discuss with anyone who is interested or wants to help!

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