Tackling the education employment gap by Adam Oldfield

Tackling the education employment gap by Adam Oldfield


Our education system is built around a production line that churns out graduates with standardised skills for roles in an industrialisd economy. But we live in a post-industrial economy that is changing faster than education can keep pace. Sir Ken Robinson a leading thinker in this area is challenging educators to rethink how we teach future generations. His view is that creativity is as important as literacy in education. I'd urge you to check out his TEDTalks.

It’s an increasingly common point of view. In the creative industry employers regularly bemoan the gap between education and employability.

In other disciplines there’s a recognition for the need for training to bridge the gap between education and work.

I recently met Adam Oldfield, co-founder of FutureRising a network for students, teachers and employers that has this issue in its sight. It is working to close the gap.

In this guest post Adam explores the gap between education and employment.

The UK is in need of 750,000 digitally skilled workers by 2017 according to a study carried out by O2 in 2013.

Our creative industries must rapidly produce people with these skills or miss out on as much as £2 billion per year.

Mind the gap

The real challenge is that there is a gap between education and the workplace which currently makes this impossible. It is caused by the absence of collaboration between professionals and teachers. Students are lacking relevant knowledge and workplace skills.

The current education system places academic achievement at the heart of students’ minds, teaching them how to write essays and pass exams.

Yet through our work placing talent within companies, we’ve learnt that employers find projects and work experience of more value than grades.

Working with universities, we’ve discovered that teachers have a huge desire to involve professionals in their courses.

Community of practice

Meeting these needs is of huge importance to education and to the future of our creative industries. But it needs an investment in time and money to make it work.

Students struggle to get jobs if they can’t demonstrate the skills they’ve picked up from workplace experiences.

Simple things like office processes (email, server, printing, timesheets), working in a multi-disciplinary team, presenting in front of a client and beating a deadline are all learnt on the job.

It makes it a real challenge for the student, often resulting in lack of confidence due to job rejections or having to undertake unpaid work. To avoid this, the creative industries need to help young people to do the following.

Hack education

Short courses or events, either online or offline. It helps students to marry what has been learnt with real life experience.


Tap into the ideas of young people by releasing briefs and projects for them to tackle.


Put in place a process for dealing with every email, letter or approach made. The quality of applications will not improve if those doing it wrong are not told how they can get better.

More roles

Regardless of a company's size, we should offer more apprenticeships, internships and graduate positions throughout the creative industries. And they must be paid.

Whilst a company recognises the investment of money and time it costs them to train an inexperienced person at present, the majority of companies don’t value the development of young people before they join their company.

By increasing and improving the interactions between professionals, teachers and students, companies will benefit from attracting the best talent and will retain that talent.

Universities will also benefit, increasing the employability of their students going into roles they are right for.

In return the creative industries will benefit immensely by capitalising on the increased business opportunities coming our way over the next few years.

Adam Oldfield is co-founder of FutureRising. You can connect with him on Twitter @adamtoldfield.

Chartered public relations: blog to book

Chartered public relations: blog to book

10 personal productivity life hacks

10 personal productivity life hacks