Giving Every Young Person A Chance

 
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Recent positive news about the UK economy has been incredibly welcome. Britain is back growing and working. And the positive news on our education system, announced in last month's school leagues tables, proves that Britain is learning too. More schools are meeting government targets and our country's talented and dedicated teachers are creating a brighter future for many young people. But we are failing the next generation until all young people have the opportunity to secure a successful future for themselves and our country. The business community can change all this. Last month after 35 years in industry I was delighted to become Chair of the charity Teach First. And I've joined at an exciting time, with the fortunes of six Teach First teachers being the subject of the acclaimed BBC Three documentary Tough Young Teachers.

As a business leader I have been convinced for many years that THE most important strategic priority for the nation is the education of its young people. I passionately believe that business has a duty, a responsibility and a great opportunity to support our schools and to help more young people to succeed. Whilst the final episode of Tough Young Teachers aired, I was joined by the Mayor of London and 100 of the country's top business leaders to discuss how together we can rise to this challenge and give every young person a chance to succeed for themselves and for our economy. Many businesses have already grasped this opportunity and have seen the importance of developing the next generation of talented employees. Organisations like Deloitte have taken up this challenge, committing to improve social mobility and access to professional jobs for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are raising aspirations, signposting access routes to employment and are supporting and mentoring young people who would never normally know how to access these careers. But more needs to be done, a great deal more. As a business community, surely one of our greatest priorities is addressing the growing skills crisis we face in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Many of the jobs of the future will be in rapidly developing industries, such as advanced manufacturing, life sciences and green energy, for which mastery of STEM subjects is key. It's estimated that, each year, the economy needs around 104,000 graduate-level jobs in STEM-based subjects. But, at present, we've a shortage of 40,000 young people...

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