The Productivity Challenge

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Hi all, I’m Naomi Burgess and in this post I’d like to talk about problems with productivity posed by young professionals and whether their education should be equipped for solving the productivity challenge.

Knowing the Issue

The issue of school leavers and graduates not being prepared for real-life careers has long been a prominent one in the UK. However, it is hard to solve this problem without first understanding what the problem is. The productivity challenge is quite complex and the issues go beyond what I can write in a single post. However, what I can offer is a short introduction into why the problem has posed many issues in the recent years and what steps can be taken towards solving them, in my opinion.

Define Difficulties

In the current economic climate it’s harder than ever for young people to enter the workforce and their productivity level is therefore quite low. There are many causes for these difficulties, and a prominent one is the young people’s low level of experience and understanding of professional standards and other aspects of “being a grown-up”. UK’s schools, colleges and Universities, despite being some of the best in the world, don’t prepare students for the world of work well enough. Unfortunately, the government seems to not see this issue as a priority at present.

Difficulties are part of the process

There is little point, however, in distributing the blame for the situation. What we should be doing instead is working out solutions to the complex problem. Obviously we need to equip young people with more experience in order to get them out of the vicious circle of “needing work experience in order to secure work experience”. They should also have at least some understanding about the world of work before they enter it and it’s best to get an early start on that.

Seek Advice

However, placing all the burden on the young professionals is not the answer either. While they should spend a considerable amount of time looking for work experience via various channels, they should also get the help they need from educational establishments. Some universities have excellent careers advice services, but there’s still a long way to go. Of course, there are issues of funding, but if it gives prospective young professionals a chance to figure out the different options available to them and what they want to do with them, it’s a worthy investment. And there’s little use in just limiting the career advice services to universities – a University degree, is after all, not for everyone, and there are many professions that don’t require it but are just as hard to get into.

Teachers should be well-rounded

School and University’s teaching staff members should also try and introduce some aspects of the “adult world” into the classroom. With the way the situation is now, it’s not fair to criticise them for failing to do so – they’re not at fault – but it would be very wise to encourage them to provide their students with opportunities to get some experience of the real world outside the school or University grounds. For that reason, I believe that we need to provide teachers with appropriate additional training so that they’re able to implement the aspects of the working world within their educational establishments. Again, this corresponds with my earlier suggestion – try and understand the problem before solving it. If the teachers understand the current issues of the world outside their classrooms, they would be able to communicate them to their students to help them understand those issues and make decisions about the future. This way, their levels of productivity increase because they’re more aware of the world and chances are that they’ve started looking for work experience early on.

Students must be Open to reality

Whether a child chooses to go to University, enter the workforce straight after school, or go travelling for a year, they need to understand all the advantages and drawbacks of each path and opportunity presented to them in order to make an informed decision that suits them best. The productivity challenge faced by many adults that hire young professionals can be argued, as I explained earlier, to be caused by the new generation’s lack of understanding about all the opportunities available to them, and of course, there’s parental pressure to go to the best University. Often, teenagers end up on the path that’s completely wrong for them because of the elitist views of their parental figures on the routes that aren’t Higher Education. They eventually end up burnt out in their twenties and their performance levels are mediocre at best. No professional wants to hire someone like that.

The productivity challenge is a problem that needs to be solved. It’s unlikely to be solved quickly and unfortunately, due to the elitist views of many British parents and a number of other factors, the movements towards solving it are likely to be met with opposition. However, this doesn’t change the fact that the future school leavers have extremely limited knowledge of the world and that needs to change.

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