9 November 2017

  |  CBI Scotland

Press release

Sir Tom Hunter calls for urgent upskilling of youth for fast-changing global economy

Sir Tom Hunter joined CBI Scotland Director Hugh Aitken and Founders4Schools CEO Sherry Coutu at an event looking at how business-education interactions could be improved to deliver better results for young people and employers.

Sir Tom Hunter calls for urgent upskilling of youth for fast-changing global economy

Speaking at a CBI Scotland/Founders4Schools event in Edinburgh, one of Scotland’s most prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Sir Tom Hunter, told the audience that upskilling young Scots is a key building-block of Scotland’s long-term economic and social prosperity.

The event, hosted by Standard Life UK, focussed on how early exposure to commercial sectors can boost the education and employment prospects of young Scots. Promoting better business-school interaction has been key priority for both CBI Scotland and Founders4Schools and could significantly bolster Scotland’s education and skills prospects.

Speaking at the event, Sir Tom said:

“Equipping our young people with the skills to succeed and prosper are pivotal to Scotland’s long-term economic and social prosperity. The pace of change in the world has never been so quick, but it’s the slowest it will ever be.

“Business, education and Government all must play a role in enabling the skills for tomorrow, today in our young people.”

CBI Scotland Director Hugh Aitken said:

“Making sure young people are equipped with the skills businesses need is a major challenge and we need to act now if we are to avoid a generation of young people falling behind their counterparts in other countries. Too many young people are leaving school without the skills they need to succeed and too many companies are finding that new recruits require additional training to become truly workplace-ready.

“Our recent survey said that 82% of Scottish businesses are keen to play a more active role in supporting schools and colleges – that’s really encouraging and we’d like businesses to go even further by proactively finding opportunities to engage with education. Businesses have also told us that more can be done to make sure that young people are aware of the variety of opportunities available to them – through promoting better interaction between business and education we can help address this. 

“Giving young people first-hand experience of the world of work not only helps them to make better choices, it also helps them attain the breadth of work-based skills they need to fulfil their potential, whatever career path they choose. This isn’t just about improving formal qualifications, it’s also about making sure that young people develop the attitudes and aptitudes they need to succeed – that’s what employers tell us will really make a difference.”

Founders4Schools CEO Sherry Coutu said:

“Promoting better educator-employer interactions is a way of tackling our skills gap head-on and innovative platforms like Founders4Schools, ones which take a teacher-centric approach, are really starting to deliver results. It’s about harnessing new technology to make it easier for all stakeholders, from business leaders to teachers and individual pupils, to work together more effectively to achieve a shared goal.

“Through better matching of educational institutions to employers we know that we can make a real difference to the future employability of young people. Research has shown that following four employer encounters pupils are 86% more likely to be employed and earn 18% more – and that’s backed-up here in Scotland where our partnership with Stirling Council has delivered staggering results.”