What we need is relatively simple: businesses to recognise that those under 25 could become a talent pool that will help them grow but they have an active role to play in helping them understand and then develop the skills that are needed. It could start with offering work experience, a traineeship or apprenticeship. What's important is realising this interaction will inspire a young person about what their future could hold and directly influence their success. Especially for the one in six who grow up in families where neither parent is employed.
If any further evidence was needed of how far Labour leader Ed Milliband is from living in the real world, then the opening of his party's conference drove it home. Going for the headline grabbing policies that you'd expect from an opposition leader, Ed put his hand into the bag full of issues concerning the electorate and pulled out 'foreign workers' and 'apprenticeships.'
In the last month we have heard the news that youth unemployment fell by around 20,000 in the three months up to May. There is clearly a long way to go but people seem to be feeling a bit more optimistic about the job market for the first time in years. It feels great to know that more people are finding work and gaining the experience, not to mention self-confidence, that they need. However, while finding a job can be a great boost, especially if someone has been struggling to gain employment, it doesn't mean that happiness automatically follows.
I would argue that too many businesses are reluctant to take the risk on a young person without any experience. Turned on its head, that small risk could actually be a life-changing opportunity to set a young person on course for a truly bright future. So, I think every business needs to consider whether they are doing enough to support young people in their communities to first gain work experience, and then to move into employment. We cannot expect schools or parents alone to support a young person into work. In my view, businesses are a vital part of the equation.
The manner in which the government is seeking to introduce apprenticeships serves only to polarise the debate, ensuring that young people are either classified as 'apprenticeship' material, or are left to join the ranks of thousands of graduates competing for the grossly limited number of entry-level jobs.