THE BLOG
24/12/2013 05:21 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Happy 18th Birthday! Good Luck on Your Own

What do you remember about turning 18?

I remember the excitement of becoming a 'legal' adult and feeling like the world was mine to own.

My biggest worry was how I was going to save up enough to buy a car.

Now my thoughts are with those who are turning 18 in the next few years.

The world is a vastly different place to when I was young, and today's newly 'legal' adults are met with intense challenges, not least of which is simply getting a job.

Three hurdles that come to mind are a delicate economic recovery, confusing careers advice and stiff competition for "entry-level" jobs.

All of this, coupled with our research which shows that almost 60% of employers are reporting skills gaps, demonstrates that skills education is hugely important.

Yet all too often, a vocational route is seen as a less-important path.

The Government made this clear last week as they announced that the budget for 18 year-old vocational students will be slashed by more than 17%.

This group was targeted because it was the "least worst" choice, according to Education Secretary Michael Gove.

And it's easy to see why Mr. Gove believes that. The lack of media coverage speaks for itself.

In his mind, a typical student takes GCSEs from ages 14-16, continues to A-levels until they're 18 and then swiftly moves on to university.

If that's the case, who is going to be affected by the funding cut?

Most students who are still studying at 18 are at college and tend fall into two groups.

Either they haven't been able to reach Level 2 (equivalent of GCSE) by the time they come to college at 16 and have to catch up, or they transfer to college at 17 and require more time to finish their studies.

Both groups are learning the practical skills they need to get a job.

With almost a million 18-24 year olds unemployed in the UK, we can't afford to turn our back on them.

That's why I respectfully disagree with Mr. Gove that they are the "least worst" funding pot to raid; in fact they are the ones that need to be invested in the most.

The best way to combat future youth unemployment is to think of education in its entirety and commit to supporting this country's children at each level, not just until they are 18.