Solving Youth Employment #is (it) possible

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The other day I came across a great video by Jamal Edwards called #ispossible. 11 years ago, Jamal was working as a Store Assistant; now at 26, he heads up SBTV, a music site with over 130 million hits. His friends include Prince William and Harry, Sir Richard Branson and pops stars like Rita Ora and Ed Sheeran. His rise to success is amazing but more powerful is his message.

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He went onto say failure is not trying and to find opportunity in everything, because you never know what small gift can change your life. One of his final messages was stay humble.

Jamal is part of a growing group of inspiring young people who are becoming the business inspiration and role models of the future. I’m also seeing evidence of more and more people achieving big things where traditional education wasn’t for them. Michelle Mone is a great example; she left school with no qualifications and is now one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs.

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Then look at John Steinbeck who left uni without a degree. Most people will likely have read Mice and Men at school.

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Education is incredibly important and has the power to open doors, however it isn’t the only way to succeed. For many, self learning is the way forwards. Interesting we interviewed a guy who left school with no qualifications and he got a job on a building site. At 30 he decided he needed to achieve some bigger goals, he went back to college and is now a qualified civil engineer managing a £10m project.

The challenge is traditional education aka ‘academia’ doesn’t suit all young people and a bad experience can lead to a massive lack of self-belief. Ken Robinson talked about this in a brilliant TED Talk video.

Once a lack of self belief edges in, it can lead to a lot of issues including negative behaviours and low self esteem which are both directly linked to unemployment. A recent Princes Trust Report, found that there are over 400,000 young people at risk of long term unemployment. This is massively damaging to these young peoples lives (as well as economically for the country).

The answer isn’t simple but it needs to start with believing these 400,000 young people all have potential. Plan B talked around the issues of young people in disavantaged areas often being demonised. The fact is many of these young people have had big personal challenges that very few of us could handle. If we don’t believe in these young people, neither will they.

Jim Clarke