Duncan Cheatle is founder & CEO of rise-to.com

After 15 years working with owners of fast-growth businesses and five years helping young people boost their employability, I’m convinced we can do more to encourage school-leavers to cultivate the important, extra-curricular assets that employers seek.   

The Big Four accounting firms, the largest traditional graduate recruiters after Teach First, are increasingly hiring at 18+ and prioritising intangible skills over academic results.  As for smaller firms, the most necessary ingredient I hear about from CEOs of fast-growth businesses is the ‘right attitude’. In frank discussion amongst the business founders that come to roundtables at The Supper Club, what is stressed repeatedly is their desire for candidates with resilience, analytical and problem-solving skills, an ability to communicate clearly and to work efficiently with others. Moreover, they want to see evidence of these skills in practice. 

The Supper Club’s members range from those with Firsts from Oxbridge to those who left school with no qualifications, yet all of them now run multi-million pound businesses.  They stress the value of assessing potential through means other than exam results. Some specific professions aside, academic ability is agreed to be a poor measure of business capability.  

That’s why the UK’s obsession with grades (and churning out students who simply learn to pass exams) is dangerous. Being employable means understanding responsibility. Having a track record, however unconventional, of real-life, hands-on work experience, will develop this.   We need our school-leavers to embrace a challenge and not fear failure. Resilience is a prime example of an intangible quality that can’t be taught the way hard skills can, but it can certainly be tested and improved through the accumulation of experience.

So are we doing enough to point teenagers towards experiences that bring these qualities alive? Do the teenagers we interact with have a clear idea of what makes them stand out? Can they tell their ‘story’ in a manner that would intrigue an interviewer? Can they translate their sporting achievements, volunteering activity and caring roles into employable skills and qualities? Have they been exposed to the language of business, whether it’s cashing up after a restaurant shift or drawing up a staff rota at a sports or volunteering club? 

Informally, there is much we can do to inspire action. We can encourage teenagers to ask people in roles they admire whether they could shadow them at work for a day. We can suggest that they ask five people they know well to describe succinctly what makes them different. We can encourage them to build a ‘Why hire me?’ list full of evidence. We can help them curate a portfolio showing hobbies, skills, achievements and references from community leaders they’ve impressed. 

We can signpost them towards fit-for-purpose resources. Pioneering, highly interactive online learning and career-finding platforms like U-explore.com and Rise-to.com provide valuable work-preparation way ahead of any interview process, and are a useful gateway to self-assessment tools and to developing relevant skills. I know that many businesses seek a panacea where they can assess candidates on soft skills and ‘intangibles’. A few platforms are starting to do exactly that. The more

committed and forward-thinking businesses offer via these employability sites ongoing shadowing and mentoring opportunities of varying lengths and types. It builds their employer brand AND helps them see contenders ‘in situ’ and not just on paper. 

But in 2015, only a fifth of UK employers were involved in inspiration programmes for would-be candidates (e.g. mock interviews, open days, mentoring and challenges)  -  we must increase this.

Less ‘organised’ work experience isn’t as hard to find as some defeatists might suggest. It exists in many shapes and forms, and initiative is everything. I was phoned once by a student who said he liked what I was doing and could he come in and help out for free. We gave him a role and I mentored him for a while. Seven years later he’s CEO of his own ad-tech start-up in Silicon Valley and has recently raised £18m in funding…  Putting yourself into challenging positions builds character. Let’s find more imaginative ways of offering tomorrow’s workforce a taste of enterprise and responsibility. I must have worked in over 100 businesses in my time, from grafting on a farm to working for a car dealership and later as an auditor with PwC. Data input in a soulless, silent room for two of the longest days of my life at a water authority taught me what I didn’t want to do. Knocking on doors offering car washes taught me gems about timing and profits – a road of clean cars meant someone had beaten me to it. Those type of lessons turned out to be game-changers.

Duncan Cheatle is founder & CEO of rise-to.com, a free ‘career accelerator’ for 16+ students and school-leavers. He is also co-founder of StartUp Britain and The Supper Club, home to 400+ founder/CEOs of the UK’s fastest growing businesses.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 8 hours 14 minutes ago

South West Institute of Technology centre (SWIoT)

Petroc Principal Sean Mackney is supporting Love Our Colleges week by showing off the build of our South West Institute of Technology centre...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 8 hours 16 minutes ago

RT @FrancisAlun: We talked a little bit about Oldham and social mobility with @TomBewick and guests. It was fun to do and #skillsworldlive…
View Original Tweet

Claire Russell has published a new article: Education world now putting more focus on planning 10 hours 31 minutes ago

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page