Column by entrepreneur Adam Bradford.
This week, hundreds of thousands of A-Level students will be trembling with anxiety awaiting those all-important grades.
I started young in my career and through a local enterprise competition became an entrepreneur from the age of 14 and as such I know the value in alternative career options. As a person without a degree, it can be easy to think of myself as somehow lesser qualified than a person with a degree.
A traditionalist view of the world and people’s qualities in this way is delimiting to young people and their futures. The UK needs ambitious young leaders to reshape the future of business, ethics, politics and society. Now tell me which degree is going to help you achieve all of that.
Many believe going to university increases their chances of getting a better paid job. Universities will tempt in students with impressive accolades and industry links. However, research from the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes survey found that a quarter of graduates from 2004 are only earning £20,000 a year, with the median salary being £31,000. Sit this disappointing result against a backdrop of student debt estimated to be £50,000 on average and the youth unemployment problem – what role can a university or a degree play in cracking this nut?
The current youth unemployment rate of 617,000 is a complex matter – it is made up of a generation of young people firstly who connect with the world and their passion in new ways which consistently challenge the views and traditions of their elders, a saturated job market and increasing competition for the top jobs. Youth employment can be turned on its head through an entrepreneurial mindset.
A recent Politico poll found that youth unemployment, not Brexit, is the highest priority problem for young people in Europe and I am inclined to agree.
We need companies to open their eyes to the potential of youth and to look at the next generation beyond just the pieces of paper they have to their name. I have met thousands of young people who have energy, ideas, excellent communication skills but just didn’t think university was right for them. Ironically I have given guest speeches at universities nationwide and been disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm and direction students have in many institutions. I think careers guidance needs an overhaul - where do young people get quality personal advice from? Many young people are taking the university route because it’s the done thing, but is a degree really the be all and end all? This results day, think about other ways to reach your career goals. University is not the only option.