City’s young people debate hot button issues

Young Peoples Question Time challenges youth education and employment issues
Young Peoples Question Time challenges youth education and employment issues
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A Sheffield youth charity hosted a live debate, for young people to discuss issues of education and employment.

Sheffield Futures teamed up with Festival of Debate to host a Young People’s Question Time recently, featuying a panel of experts and young people from the city.

Topics on the agenda included zero hour contracts, apprenticeships, the value of university and work placements.

Panelist Jon Maiden, founding director of Big Green Fox, said: “We discussed flexibility in normal contracts and that zero hours contacts are not a good thing, as it is incredibly difficult for anyone to budget for their bills and housing costs if they don’t know how much money to expect every week.”

On the subject of university, he added: “Study should not be all about exams and essays. Degrees aren’t enough these days. People want to know about your experiences and how you apply them.

“I believe that schools need to be better integrated with the world of work in order to get young people ready for the job market.”

Fellow panelist Hassun El Zafar, Education Officer at Sheffield Hallam University, said he felt it was important for young people to drive the change needed for their future, but felt that the current education system does not encouarge this.

He said: “We judge our students on their grades, percentages and productivity despite knowing that they are worth so much more. We restrict our student’s creativity and imagination by telling them that there is only ever one right answer and one way, and then complain about the lack of innovation and futuristic ideas.”

Internships was another hot button topic at the event, with young people from low economic backgrounds stating that they would be unable to work for long periods of time on an unpaid basis, which they said in many cases lead to them struggling to find work in the area they studied. Panelist Louise Haigh - MP for Heeley - took this opportunity to touch on the issue of the new Living Wage on April 1, and voiced her disapproval that under-25s had not been included in the new venture.

Panelist Liz Wallis, managing director at Sero Consulting Limited, said: “It was encouraging to see so many young people engaged with the debate and we were impressed with the professionalism and confidence of those who attended.”