Last week, here in the UK, our 18 year olds who have remained in full-time education received their ‘A-Level’ results; these are the results that ultimately decide whether or not the young person will be allowed in to the University of their choice, have to go through a system called ‘clearing’ to find a different University place, or if their dreams of attending University are lost.
For more young people than ever, not reaching their expected grades and therefore not attaining a place at University is becoming a reality. With 6 applicants fighting for every place in clearing, this is becoming big news. The pressure on young people to attend University is great, with no real alternative being offered to bright, intelligent and motivated young people.
Is a University degree essential in order to be successful? For many employers it is the easiest way to distinguish the capabilities of potential applicants, providing a playing field on which their relevant skills and abilities can be assessed. However, just because someone has a degree does not mean they will be more competent at carrying out a job as someone with years of experience doing that work, instead of attending University.
Throughout the education system there is considerable emphasis placed on attending University, with the end goal being to achieve a good job, working for someone else. There is little mention of the option of working for yourself, with the end goal being to have your own business, with or without attending University.
Of course, telling all young people that they can create a company that will rival Apple and expand allowing them to make millions would be unrealistic, and whilst it is great to inspire ambition, and that should certainly be part of it, I am more concerned with exploring the option of lifestyle businesses with our young people.
Young people should be given all the options; attending University, getting a job, gaining technical skills, or starting their own business. Young people need direction, and focus, and many consider starting their own business an unobtainable pursuit.
The truth is, however, that as University places are being snatched up in days, and the cost of University is increasing, alternatives need to be sensibly and beneficially, relayed to our young people. We don’t need to tell them that they could be the next “Richard Branson”, but instead that it is possible to build a business for yourself, that will work for you and the lifestyle you wish to have.
The fundamentals of business start up and financial planning would obviously need to play a part, but with the economy as it is these are useful skills for all young people to have. And besides, what would be wrong with instilling a bit of entrepreneurial spirit and ambition in to our young people?