Britain is rightly proud of its track record of job creation, but a successful 21st Century economy requires more. Ahead of the 2015 Election, it is time for all parties to face up to the changing face of the labour market, and set out their commitments to building a more sustainable, productive and robust economy that offers opportunities for all workers, and cities, throughout the UK.
"If Joe has a first, but did nothing with his spare time, and Matt has a 2.1, but did loads of extra-curricular stuff, employers are gonna go with Matt." He spoke with so much certainty that it indoctrinated me into that mindset. I'm now in Matt's position... 80 job applications later, and it seems Joe's been chosen over me every time.
Because there is no public overseer, there is no one to take genuinely impartial responsibility for making sure that employment figures are accurate. The result is that thousands of students a year could be relying on misrepresented information to make one of the most important decisions in their lives.
With GCSE and A-Level results fresh in the hands of thousands of young people in the UK this week, it's important for students and their parents to be aware of the wide spectrum of available options. University will rightly continue to be a place for generations to continue their education, but it's naive to think of it as a 'one stop shop' for getting onto the career ladder.
There is support for international students among the general public who both recognise the benefits they bring and believe we should make use of their skills and talent... 'International students should be allowed to stay and work in Britain after graduating from British universities, using their skills for the benefit of our economy, for at least a period of time'.
It's time for an adventure. Three months away from reality, work and looking after other peoples' lives... time to start looking after my own. While I'm using some inheritance money to kick me off, it won't be all five star hotels! I'm budgeting heavily, and enjoying reading travel blogs on how to see the world on a shoestring.
This is a perfect storm scenario. Countries such as the UK, with a history of dominance and empire and educational excellence, need to look beyond the obvious. The world is going to be a very different place in just a couple of decades. Economic and cultural hegemony is not a birthright and can easily shift to the east throughout this century.
Last year, when I was 23, I was asked to do some freelance work for a website. It was a really exciting opportunity, and I couldn't wait to take on a new challenge. A few days in, my boss emailed me. Nestled between the chitchat was a question about my age. As in, what is it? Happily, I told her. And that's when everything changed.