THE BLOG

All Theory and No Practice Makes Jack an Unemployable Boy

20/03/2013 11:41 GMT | Updated 19/05/2013 10:12 BST

These days we're all hard pressed. But for young people it really hasn't helped that schools and universities are failing to properly prepare them for the world of work.

It's impossible to fully articulate the latent value of having a good education, of being well read, of being strong at arithmetic and of having the ability to analyse a problem and formulate a solution.

A good education is an invaluable currency and the weapon against the cruelties of this world.

However, all of this is for nothing if teachers and schools, lecturers and universities fail to explain to young people how the professional world actually works.

It's of no value a young person to be a rigid and technical desk monkey; they need to know and understand the context and methodology of the actual work place, as well as social graces and professional etiquette.

As I often say: all theory and no practice makes Jack an unemployable boy. In good economic times and in bad, a fundamental knowledge of how the real world works is priceless.

In 2003 when the boom years were gaining momentum the Guardian warned that universities were failing to prepare young people for the job market.

Ten years on the problem persists. Even worse is the fact that it seems to exist from top to bottom.

Universities have expressed that A-level students are often unprepared for third level education.

Then employers and recruiters have said that graduates are unprepared for the job market.

And it's not just recruiters saying this; graduates themselves are saying that they themselves feel unprepared for the workplace.

Interestingly this phenomenon is mirrored in the United States where a survey found that two fifths of high school students are often unprepared for college. And likewise, college students are unready for the professional world.

It's especially worrying to see that IT and engineering graduates are often chronically under-prepared for the world of work post graduation. IT and engineering are two real boom sectors where the market is demanding a steady supply of labour.

For universities to fail to raise students to the required level is an utter sham and disgrace.

The reality of education which sees a clear delineation between the place of learning and the place of work is unsustainable. No man is an island entire of himself. Equally, education is not an island entire of itself.

There should be a symbiotic and mutually interested and interactive relationship between school, university and the workplace.

I've written about this many times including here, here, here, here, here, here and here. I'm sure you can really tell that this is something that I'm passionate about!

The other unfortunate reality is that the monnied classes have the luxury of well placed parents who can bridge the information gap between school and work by actually informing their kids, shaking hands and opening the proverbial door.

Oh how I detest the nepotistic tendencies of the elite.

So what we need to do is utterly reimagine the place of learning. We need inspirational and radical leadership; the kind that properly reflects the digital, borderless digital world in which we now live. Perhaps something like what was suggested in the Ted Talk, "Changing Education Paradigms".

We need to tear down the walls that surround education, bring professionals into the classroom and bring the classroom into the professional workplace. This will ensure the fluid and rhythmical interplay that's needed to foster an exciting and fully informative educational experience.

An educational experience that ticks both boxes and teaches theory and practice; thereby making Jack a very much employable boy.