Over the past decade or so schools have focused on getting the maximum number of children into university. Whatever the rights and wrongs of such a policy, things are now changing. There is a realisation that a degree does not automatically qualify one for a job and the cost of gaining that education has now risen to the level where some students are deciding not to pay that price. Our economic team has been looking at the role education plays in our economy.
The best way to secure the future of pupils is to make sure they get maximum benefit from their education. We make no secret of the fact that we would like to see Devizes School rise higher up the league table for GCSE results. But, more immediately, we are concerned by the lack of contact between local employers and schools. There has been criticism that school leavers are not as well prepared for the world of work as they could be. Employers can help in that process through work experience and mentoring.
Apprenticeships are coming back into fashion and are an ideal way to provide youngsters with a trade which will stay in demand for the foreseeable future. We believe that local employers will respond to the challenge of finding the maximum number of jobs for our school leavers. We are now in discussion with schools on the best way of ensuring that cooperation bears fruit, with children ready to go to work and employers taking responsibility for mentoring those seeking a career in local commerce and industry.
We cannot single-handedly solve the youth unemployment crisis, but we can make sure that our community is doing its very best to fit our young people for the world of work.