Chris Jones is CEO of the City & Guilds Group, a global leader in skills development. This includes City & Guilds activity as an awarding body in the UK, ILM, City & Guilds Kineo, which supports employers with learning and technology, The Oxford Group which provides bespoke management training and Digital me which designs credentials using open badges.
Chris plays a prominent role in driving the national skills agenda – something he has personal experience of as he followed the vocational education path himself. After a year of university, he decided to leave to take a practical marketing and sales course, which set the foundation for his career. He is a member of the Business in the Community Talent and Skills Leadership team and the Employers in Education Taskforce Partnership Board. He is also a Governor at the Activate Learning group of colleges, formerly the Oxford and Cherwell Valley College Group.
Before joining City & Guilds, Chris held several senior management positions in Pearson and Reed Elsevier. In his former post, he transformed Harcourt Education International, implementing a customer-centred vision to grow revenue. Chris also served as Senior Vice President at LexisNexis Risk Management Group and Group Director at Financial Times Electronic Publishing.
It's no lie that people are living longer. There are now five generations in the workforce - and this is going to become the norm. It'd be foolish to think that this won't change the way we hire and train our staff, so it's vital that businesses adapt too. That means understanding the need to hire and train staff differently.
But unless the Government takes the time to reflect on what has been achieved, and consult with others about how best to move forward with its reforms, there's a real risk that any progress made over the past few years will be undone.
We'll never be able to predict perfectly what the future workplace could look like. But the bottom line is, businesses and individuals need to be prepared so they are in a stronger position for whatever the new world holds.
Last week's National Apprenticeship Week was full of discussion. We heard about the productivity gains of hiring apprentices, and concerns around the gender divide. We celebrated the amazing things apprentices have achieved, and heard from business leaders who are pledging to create more apprenticeships.
City & Guilds conducted research to understand this better. We found a huge mismatch between what careers 14-19 years olds want to pursue and where the jobs will actually be. For example, more than 15% of young people said they want a career in arts, entertainment and presenting. Yet, less than 5% of all jobs will be in this industry by 2022, according to job forecasts.
We're proud of our strong, historical links to the City - and proud to showcase the many ways organisations like ours make other people's lives better. The City of London brings together hundreds of thousands of people every day, all of whom can make a difference. I'd encourage all businesses to take part, even if you aren't located in the City, so you can join the celebration of charitable giving.
It's exam season again and, as usual, the focus is on who got what grades. Yet, time and time again employers tell us that what they really care about in new recruits has nothing to do with As and Bs, and everything to do with work experience.
If you really want staff your staff to be loyal, you have to enable their development at every step of their career. That involves supporting them to do their current job, helping them progress on that job, and eventually, helping them to move onto the next job.
There's nothing wrong with the concept of gaining practical skills alongside academic study, but that's what 'sandwich year' university programmes already offer. Is it truly an apprenticeship, then, or is it simply re-packaged?
Politicians aren't known to agree, but they did reach a consensus on one thing last week: how poor careers advice is in the UK. That's probably not surprising to anyone who's recently come through the school system, which is why representatives of the three major political parties are calling for huge improvements.
We're calling on politicians to think before they leap. City & Guilds wants to see long-term planning instead of short-term headline grabbing. If politicians can't learn from mistakes and leave policies in place long enough to make a difference, they risk another three decades of getting caught in the tube doors.
The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped and plans have been made. Yes, Christmas is just around the corner. And before we know it, we'll be toasting in the New Year. People say things tend to quieten down for businesses around this time of year, but this certainly hasn't been the case in the skills and employment arena. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Student loan debt is scary, but you also worry about finding a job without a degree. Then you have to factor in your parents' opinions. Mum wants you to be a doctor; dad wants you to be an engineer. And you don't want to disappoint the good people who've kept you fed and clothed all these years...
So why do parents think the education system isn't working? The majority of parents (64%) said their children are missing out on the key skills that employers want, like communication and teamwork. And over half (57%) think there's too much focus on academia. Similarly, a third of parents worry that their children can't link their education today with their future careers.
Figures from UCAS show the number of students going to university with vocational qualifications is up. Good news. But as a result, universities are being accused of 'dumbing down' their entry requirements.
The annual report ranks the wealth and productivity of a country, and shows how good its long-term economic policies are. But even though we may perceive ourselves as forward-thinking, we aren't beating the likes of Singapore, Japan, and The Netherlands. So what's the secret for reaching the top?
Too many students believe that straight As are the only golden ticket to a fantastic career, and write-off the value of broader workplace skills. We shouldn't let young people fall into the trap of thinking that exams are all that matter.
The British education system is failing millions - or at least that's what you might think from some of the stories in the news. It's a common sentiment, especially after the PISA report showed just how bad our 'stagnating' ranking was...
30/06/2014 14:57 BST
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