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Supply + demand: how business models could help tackle the education deficit

A recent survey by the Princes Trust and Citi Foundation offers some fresh insight into the issues surrounding youth unemployment, referring to them in the more positive terminology of the ‘undiscovered generation’ rather than the oft-used ‘lost’.

The report, one of the largest ever UK studies of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) suggests that the country could miss out on 19,500 doctors and nurses, 62,000 teachers and 1,500 plumbers, if young people are unable to fulfil their career aspirations. It further offers that:

‘up to 93,000 potential entrepreneurs, 16,000 mechanics and 31,000 social workers could also be lost if youngsters cannot pursue their ambitions. Youth unemployment already costs the state £3.5m each day in Jobseekers’ Allowance.( All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc )

The campaign calls for Government, businesses and individuals to help the charity raise £1m a week to support unemployed and disadvantaged young people. More than three in four young people on Prince’s Trust schemes move into work, training or education.

In contrast to this the lead page of the Guardian today headlines ‘University Crisis: thousands to lose jobs as funding is is cut.’ The Guardian suggests there the proposed 5% cuts will create 1000’s of job losses in campuses as FE establishments cut in line with reduced funding. The resultant course cuts will drive entrance grades higher and reduce course places by 300,000 at a time when UCAS predict its highest level of applicants ever this Autumn.

What will be the label brandished at the next challenged group, (the ‘ignorant generation’?) as clearly little has been done or even started to be implemented in time to correct our previous mistakes other than the suggested cuts in further education. Meanwhile the US under the Obama administration are increasing their investment by $4.5bn, as he believes “There is no better anti-poverty program than a world-class education”.

What both UK articles elude to is a clear lack of understanding between the demand and supply balance between what each country’s Public Sector and Commerce needs (Demand) and the available resources in terms of individual qualifications and skills, (Supply). Industry and commerce have been finessing this model ( known as Supply Chain Management ) for decades, constantly striving to a nirvana of ‘just in time’ JIT, ensuring the right resources are in the right place at the right time.

It is essential this challenge is taken up by Governments in cooperation with Commerce and Education authorities. It is then and only then we will be able to work on a long term, sustainable and effective model of matching the aspirations of future generations to the needs of our Public and Private sectors.