By Marcus Leach
Hidden away in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement speech at the House of Commons on Tuesday was a rather telling gambit that said; not only are there a lack of jobs in the youth sector, but there is a distinct lack of skills too.
The issue of jobs is, in terms of the two, the easier to rectify. The issue of skills is an altogether different kettle of fish, as to change this we must not only change the mindset of those in education, but the actual curriculum itself, as Joe Cohen, founder and CEO of Seatwave, explained.
"Well firstly I think he ( George Osborne) is absolutely right about there being a lack of skills, and there are a few things that we need to change there in my opinion," said Cohen speaking exclusively to Fresh Business Thinking. "Unfortunately its not going to be an over night chore, as its going to take quite a bit of time."
"Firstly I think there needs to be some changes in the national curriculum. Right now in Key Stage Two you can fulfil the technology curriculum by learning Power Point. That needs to change. You must start with having teachers who can teach a more sophisticated technology syllabus. And there are some really good organisations, like Apps for Good, who are building programmes to roll out those curriculums in schools.
"We need to get the right focus and funding behind those curriculums so that they are actually going into the schools. That's not a hugely capital intensive project to do that, its just having the will to push it through and get teachers on side who support and belief in it."
Cohen himself is a strong believer in technology being a major part of the curriculum, given the way the world is evolving at present, and has taken it upon himself to act where the government have been slow on the uptake. Initiatives such as DevCamp, where sixty young people from inner-London were trained for three weeks in the essential skills required to participate in London's vibrant digital sector, are, in Cohen's eyes, just the start of what should be happening.
"We need to think about programmes such as DevCamp," he said. "This is something we can do outside of the national curriculum in holidays if needs be. And again, this isn't something that takes a great deal of cash to do. In the case of Dev Camp we spent under £500 per student to teach them a basic level of coding and more importantly ignite some passion in them.
"We have all got to work together to make sure we are creating heros and role models and good stories around people who have followed this technology path. Be it mentoring or spotlighting on people who have been successful; it all helps create the mental landscape that we need to help inspire this change.
"I keep coming back to this great quote from Albert Einstein that says; 'We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them in the first place'. You have to take a different approach, and of that means doing it outside of the national curriculum in community centres where we can teach the course, then so be it. Or, if we can get things going in the national curriculum that's great, but we need a multi pronged approach where people have the attitude of 'we are going to make this happen'."