Following a recent round table event, The Skills Show is joining entrepreneur Theo Pahitis in urging employers to engage with young people. Too few employers engage directly with young people during their education, according to Paphitis, and if this situation does not change, a lack of recruitment applications and resulting sustained skills shortages could have disastrous effects for the British economy in the long term.
"Business needs to do more to get face to face with young people," he said. "We are constantly being told about skills shortages in key industry areas, but there are so many more career options available now than when I was young that it can be difficult to keep track. Rather than sitting back and waiting for young people to come to them, businesses have a responsibility to go out and engage directly with the workforce of tomorrow to inspire their careers choices and future employment paths."
Rather than waiting until they leave school, according to Paphitis, businesses should be engaging with young people at a much earlier age so that they are better informed and can make intelligent choices about their future, a view echoed by Matthew Bell of technology provider Autodesk:
"Leaving careers choices to 16 is too late," he said. "Young people need to try lots of different experiences, and be shown future areas of growth when they are still progressing through the education system, so that they can ensure they have learned the skills that employers need by the time they leave school. Students need to be fully informed about all the opportunities available to them, so that they can make a considered decision about their future careers."
The round table event, which linked ten leading business and education representatives, was held to celebrate the launch of the 2015 Skills Show, the UK's largest skills and careers event, which will take place at the NEC Birmingham from 19 to 21 November 2015 and the start of the event's two year partnership with The Telegraph. Co-ordinated with the Edge Foundation and Premier Colleges as Lead Sponsors, The Skills Show is now in its fourth year and provides an opportunity for industry to engage directly with young people to explain the employment and training opportunities which exist across all sectors of business and industry.
More than 75,000 people are expected to attend the free event over its three days. Leading employers and training organisations including BAE Systems, Crossrail, the NHS and Virgin Media have already committed to using hands-on experiences at the event to show visitors the range of careers options open to them.
For the first time this year, The Skills Show will also play host to the Squad UK selection activity for WorldSkills, the world's largest international skills competition. Age-eligible competitors from the WorldSkills UK Skills Competitions 2014 have been invited back to compete alongside this year's finalists at The Skills Show for a place in Squad UK and a chance to compete at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.
"The Skills Show is the perfect showcase for the excellence in skills which exists in British business and industry," said Paphitis, "and those employers which attend see an immediate benefit in terms of interest and involvement from the workforce of tomorrow. Can your business afford to miss out?"