Speech written and delivered at the Westminister Employment Forum by Abdul Jawula.

I’m an 18 year old who attends a sixth form college in Hampshire and even though I haven’t actually undertaken an apprenticeship I recognise the fact that they are a viable option for young people and that’s why I’m here. And I’m very excited to be in front of you right now and to be able to express my views.

So first off I’m going to start off with my experiences on watching the Olympics and the scenes, like all these jubilant scenes of seeing for example the long chimneys coming out of the ground and to me that symbolised a time when everyone worked for each other and worked together. And it wasn’t disenfranchised where everyone is doing totally different things, and a time when like sweat was actually… you felt proud to sweat and to work hard, and to work hard for things. But now it’s as if, if you’re seen to be working hard for your money, you’re almost looked down upon because you shouldn’t be trying. But I think that’s what apprenticeships actually evokes, the fact that if you do work hard you can succeed, you can move ahead and I think that’s what we should instil in our young people,  such as myself and people younger than myself, so people who are 16 etc.

And when I think of apprenticeships, personally I think of education, when I’m at school I study quite academic subjects like biology, chemistry, psychology, English language, English literature. And when I’m studying all I’m trying to do is try to put as much into my head as possible and I’m not actually engaging with the content, I’m not engaging with something that could be useful to me in the future, I’m just trying to take in as much as I can and regurgitate in the exam, that’s all I’m doing. And apprenticeships means that people can actually interact with what could be useful later on. So we are developing people who are not just doing things because they almost have to but because they want to. And that means it’s likely to lead onto careers which will mean more people stay in their careers and sort of saying, well I did a degree in this but I don’t really feel like doing it anymore. So then they end up doing something totally unrelated and that’s not only a waste of their teacher’s time but a waste of the tax payers’ money at the end of the day.

And one thing I find really important is that at this present moment in time the culture means, as has been said by both of my respective speakers on this board, it’s all academics, you need to go to sixth form, you need to go to university, you need to get a degree in certain subject. But at the end of the day the world is changing and robots are now replacing people. Now if you go down to your local supermarket you find more automatic tellers than actual people there, they have all these self-service checkouts telling you to scan this and telling you to leave when you’ve given them your money. So the skills we require from our young people and in the job sector is totally different, we need people with analytical ability, with creativity, because creativity breeds innovation and  allows the world to move forward. Not just Britain but mankind as a whole because we develop things that means we can meet the requirements of the future. And that’s really important, that’s something that no brick and mortar institution can claim to be able to instil because it’s all text books, it’s all exams, we’re not given the time to think and to create and to be creative. And I’m not just talking about subjects such as drama or art but in other things. I’ve never been asked in an exam, can you find a solution to something, but I want to, but I’ve never been asked, it’s just being able to remember.

Now in a time when computers and tablets and mobile phones are getting more powerful and even Google has developed a Project Glass which means you put it on and it beams information straight into your pupil.  So later on in the future everyone will have access to all kinds of knowledge, and maybe employees will think well I’m not going to employ him because I can just almost beam it instantaneously, will have infinite knowledge about everything. And I think it’s really important, it’s a precarious position to think it’s all about academia, academia, academia, we need people to develop solutions for the future and that’s what I find really important personally.

Now the fact is apprenticeships seem to be looked upon quite favourably by employers all over Britain because one million businesses have applied for apprenticeships and that’s just in 2012. Now if we can carry on this success into 2013 then we can achieve great things. And the apprenticeships on offer I believe should be reviewed on a yearly basis. Now this may be quite difficult but it’s important because we don’t want a situation whereby everyone is giving out apprenticeships and we have the same situation that we have with normal education where people try and find loopholes in order to be able to get people through these loopholes so it’s very important that they’re reviewed on a yearly basis. 

And to conclude, we’re at a pivotal moment in terms of education and employment. The UK’s one of the most active countries in the world, after doing my research, and that’s really important because it’s a race, it’s a global race, this is a new race that has developed, if we can get out of the starting blocks early. And it’s really important not just for the young people in this country but for the whole economy. And I believe that… I hope that apprenticeships will be a key component, something that’s really focused on by the Government because hopefully in this lifetime the big rusty locks of closed factories will click open and machinery that lay dormant will rise again and roar again, the unemployed will be able to find work again and Britain will dominate again. 

Thank you.