Could more emphasis on computers and creativity help to reduce youth unemployment in the UK?
17th October 2011 by Amanda Binge
With the Euro still struggling to stay afloat and proposed financial ‘cut back’ policies coming left, right and centre from our coalition government, I am sure in one way or another we are all starting to feel the pinch and backlash of the way our economy is suffering.
I’m certainly not one to pretend that I fully understand everything that happens in our political world. I will admit to the naivety that I have when it comes to looking in depth at the problems we’re currently experiencing and actually how serious a problem this may be for our future.
I class myself as part of the younger generation and after reading an article in the Independent today, I would certainly class myself as one of the lucky ones.
Statistics have been released recently that show that unemployment in the UK is at its highest level for 17 years. The numbers currently claiming jobseeker’s allowance has increased for the seventh month in a row to 1.6 million people. Out of that figure, 991,000 of those claiming are the younger generation (16-24 year olds) who are currently out of work.
With these shocking figures, it’s not surprising that many people feel they’re fighting a losing battle when it comes to finding their feet in the big wide world. Further figures released also showed that a fall in 178,000 jobs was recorded in the quarter to August and part-time work also suffered with 175,000 jobs being axed.
Further statistics show from the Independent article:
- A record reduction of 74,000 people over the age of 65 in employment
- Approximately 150,000 people were made redundant in the last 3 months
- Unemployment increased to 2.57 million people – worst figure since autumn 1994.
- The number of people classed as economically inactive rose to 9.35 million
- Long-term unemployment counting everyone out of work for more than a year rose by 60,000 to 867,000.
These figures certainly don’t provide a positive outlook to those desperate to get back into work and although many people are now struggling to pay their mortgage, provide for their families and even pay house-hold and food bills, the younger generation are the ones that will suffer in the long term.
A quote that particularly stood out to me was what Paul Kenny (general secretary to GMB union) said “Government policy is hurting but it’s not working. The squandering of human talent through unemployment is a crime that will haunt future generations”. It’s not just affecting those who are looking for employment, its affecting those who have paid thousands of pounds on courses and university fees. So where do we go from here and are there any answers for those who hold the key for the future?
Well, I have a possible solution I would like to run past you!
According to a report on the Guardian website in July this year, it was predicted that the global games market would be worth $74 billion in 2011 and possibly reach $100 billion by 2015 and if you didn’t know, some of the biggest and best games in the world are made here in Britain!
Britain and the UK are well known for their computing heritage when it comes to technology and creativity and in the 1980s we led the way. So why has something so significant in our past not been projected forward in our future? Well, this could all change thanks to a few industry experts who claim that teaching children from a young age how to use some of these more complicated and creative software packages will pave the way for them to enter a multi billion pound industry.
In the past few years the UK games industry has slumped from being the 3rd biggest in the world to 6th. With technology always changing and improving and even the platforms we play our games on with new phones, computer tablets and consoles, the key is being reliant on new talent to take up the challenge of producing content for the gaming world.
One industry expert Ian Livingston (who made and produced the Lara Croft Tomb Raider games) told BBC Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones that it is down to the education system. “Somehow the classroom got hijacked by ICT and that is learning about PowerPoint, Word and Excel…Useful but boring after a week of learning it. Of course it is important to learn those skills but we need to put creative technology in the hands of creative children. They need digital building blocks”.
It is believed that if there is a change and shake up in the current UK curriculum, that will present the training and knowledge to younger children in schools, then it will present a brighter future to those who have the skills, innovation and talent to become part of a successful industry. Of course we all now rely on technology. Many of us cannot go a day without using some sort of technology or technological device.
As part of the same BBC report they visited some of the teachers and students at Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge where they are one of very few schools currently teaching computer science. Many of the students were optimistic about the future and their opportunity to learn new and improved skills but were frustrated and disappointed that they were not given the opportunity sooner.
I myself attended Long Road Sixth Form College to undertake my A-Levels. This was where I got my first experience in using software other than Microsoft Office. I had my first introduction to Photoshop and iMovie (a video editing programme), which actually changed my whole perspective about what I wanted to do with my future. I was presented with an opportunity to find out that I actually had a talent and passion about the more creative industries and even went on to study Media Production at Lincoln University, a far cry from wanting to go into HR and Business management when I first arrived at Long Road.
Without this opportunity I certainly wouldn’t be here with the team at Virtual Studio.TV. Of course my knowledge of ICT which was taught at GCSE level has helped me through my times at college and university, but it really is down to me having that experience of the more creative technologies that were available to me at Long Road which has led me to completing and graduating at University and a future I never thought I would end up in as a young person.
So I think its clear to say that with the uncertainty of our economic climate and fragile future quite clearly laid out in the recent unemployment figures, there is a hope that by changing our way of thinking towards creative industries and technology will pave the way for success for the future generation. We are relying on them to absorb the ‘old basics’ of Maths, English and Science but with the added extra of the ‘new basics’ of ICT and Computer Science. We need our children to be able to be diverse in their skills and talent; otherwise they are just going to be another person joining that never ending queue at the job centre!
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