Gina Wallace investigates PKC plans to boost kids’ employability

090114-N-9704L-004 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Jan. 14, 2009) Hull Technician Fireman John Hansen, from Sarasota, Fla., lays beads for welding qualifications aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) during the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8 composite unit training exercise (COMPTUEX). COMPTUEX is a training exercise to test capabilities and ensure readiness before deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ridge Leoni/Released)

At the end of March, Breadalbane parent Gina Wallace represented the parent council at a conference entitled ‘Developing Perth & Kinross’s Young Workforce’. Shortly afterwards, Gina wrote this article for the website. That it’s so late in appearing is our fault and not hers. 

On Friday 27th March, on behalf of the Parent Council, I attended a PKC Education and Children Services conference on Developing Perth and Kinross’s Young Workforce.  The aims of the Conference were to:

  • Understand the national perspective and local policy related to developing Scotland’s young workforce
  • Increase knowledge and understanding of the education system and the world of work in the 21st century
  • Have a clear understanding of how all stakeholders can collaborate to improve the outcomes of Scotland’s young workforce in a local context.

The day was a mix of presentations, group discussions and networking opportunities, with representatives from secondary schools across the authority, including teachers, pupils and parents, and also national and local businesses, council services, further education facilities and some third sector organisations.  It was well-organised, interesting, and chaired effectively by Breadalbane Academy’s next headteacher, John Devine.

The key themes that came out strongly were:

  1. The importance of links between schools and local employers and businesses, particularly when developing the curriculum
  2. Making explicit the connections between jobs and skills, right from primary stages
  3. The need for higher status of ‘vocational’, as opposed to traditionally ‘academic’ qualifications, subject choices and experience
  4. The important role schools can play in producing young people with the right attitude, which is often more crucial in terms of getting jobs than academic qualifications.

The day closed with pupils summarising discussions from their groups, which included the following comments:

  • Schools need to better engage with parents align them with current curriculum and learning
  • There is currently a tension between academic studies and wider achievement – school is about more than just qualifications
  • Pupils should have contact with businesses from younger ages
  • STEM subjects are vital

Suggested action points:

  • School could host business breakfasts
  • Organise business linkages events locally
  • Set up a working group with school, pupils, and businesses with an action plan and scheduled events
  • Increase teachers’ knowledge of businesses and what they do
  • Create a ‘What do we do?’ board highlighting local businesses
  • Highlight role models that pupils can learn about, and share their career stories, demonstrating different paths to success
  • Create a core group focused on establishing new partnerships with businesses and communicating opportunities

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