Last year I did something very strange and out of character. I left a good, secure job (without even being asked to first) and agreed to give all of my savings to a university in exchange for them teaching me how to be a journalist...
Last summer, I did my first (unpaid) internship at a magazine. I turned 31 during the placement - older than a lot of my colleagues at the magazine and not much younger than the editor. In many ways, it was one of the best things I ever did.
With so much uncertainty, perhaps it is less surprising that just under one million young people remain out of employment, education or training. The research shows that the problem is not that young people aren't receptive to careers advice but that they haven't received enough of it. Young people are eager to find out more information on the full range of options open to them - both academic and vocational- as 20% of those polled wanted more information than they were currently getting. Research from the CBI and LifeSkills Youth Barometer reveals that 93% of young people are not getting the careers advice they need.
Without internships, you can kiss goodbye to gaining critical experience; wave farewell to school credit; bid adieu to making friends, those future stars of fashion; and pretty much forget about getting your name in print. Everybody starts out as an intern; it's a rite of passage. And, the longer you can stick it out as one, the greater the chance of ultimately getting a job..
It is crucial to look out there to turn around the learning if we are to re-calibrate the machine. If we as educators can't be open, radically re-learn from young people and collaborate with others out there to help fashion new digital tools and approaches to transforming the lives of marginalised young people, the queue will continue to be long and the cry that "Education, labour or the machine isn't working" will become ever louder.
It's difficult to think of a greater embodiment of wealthy people being able to purchase advantage for their offspring and puts me in mind of an excellent Simpsons scene where Montgomery Burns attempts to buy a place at his alma mater for his son, who is so stupid that Yale set the price of entry as being 'an international airport'.
Students are living in poverty, and it is not even on the radar on the political agenda. There are two key issues here; firstly, the general cost of living is going up, whilst the amount of loan and grants that students are receiving are remaining entirely still.
Having a sense of the value of Apprenticeships is becoming increasingly important to businesses. For our organisation, the advantage of Apprenticeships goes beyond the view that they are a cost effective resource; they bring innovation, inspiration and energy to our teams, invigorating our approach to work.
An apprentice is no longer someone who makes the tea, or who hands the mechanic a monkey wrench. The young professionals in IBM Apprenticeships certainly have real responsibility and make a proper difference to our most important clients.
I have temporarily swapped slovenly student life for that of a suited city slicker. With my track record in high heels, "city-stumbler" would be a more accurate description. I identify with this term, a "Helena original", not only due to my distinct lack of work experience but also as a result of my natural clumsiness in the workplace.
So often I hear individuals complain of experiencing poor Customer Service. In fact, bad, or less-than-good service seems to be the norm, these days. There's a lack common sense, little or no empathy, and an insufficient "hunger", particularly in many retail establishments.