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The future is in the hands of the youth

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karen allenSouth Shields takes a lead in youth education and employment routes

It can be an overstated cliche that our future lies in the hands of our youth, but as many of us survey the wreckage of the Blair/Brown years and this recession which Chancellor Alistair Darling concedes is worse than he predicted, and indeed making a mockery of his Treasury forecasts, it is good to note that on a variety of fronts South Shields and those connected to the town are making some inroads towards a brighter future.

Education and training towards or in employment will be key to providing a successful drive to climb out of the depths of the recession. Future prospective employers are hardly likely to be looking towards employing those in the 40+ age groups unless they are looking for highly skilled and experienced managers, it is far more likely that they will be looking towards highly motivated hungry young people with a firm educational background as they plan to grow their enterprises.

To help provide the skilled workforce of the future the Edge Foundation is taking advantage of the partnership they have developed with the Department for Children, Schools, and Families and are pledging to provide a Studio School for South Tyneside in 2011. Andy Powell, Edge’s CEO says:

I’m proud to say that Studio Schools have been informed by extensive research and best practice from Britain and around the world. With a focus on business and enterprise, they will look and feel more like a business than a school. Students will participate in a range of enterprise activities, learning the majority of the curriculum through practical multi-disciplinary learning and participating in paid work. Importantly, on leaving Studio School, students will have a range of progression routes available to them including the potential to go to university.

The essential elements of Studio Schools very much reflect Edge’s ethos:
– Schools will teach the national curriculum but will have a very different style and ethos to most existing schools, with the majority of the curriculum taught through enterprise themed practical activities.
– Personalised learning and an innovative new staffing structure will ensure that students are supported to tailor the curriculum to their individual needs and aspirations.
– Students will spend a significant portion of their weekly time participating in hands-on, meaningful experience. Crucially, students will be paid for their work, with students over 16 earning a proper wage.
– On leaving their Studio School students will have gained at least Level 2 qualifications. They will have a range of progression routes available to them including apprenticeships, paid work, further and higher education.

So an education with working partnerships with prospective employers providing work based experience and training ought to go a long way to providing just the sort of workforce that will be required in the future. It also breaks the mould of some of the career advice strategies of recent years by instilling an ethos of being paid for hard work and providing the motivation to find employment rather than having to struggle on benefits. It is planned that the studio school will take over the building currently occupied by South Shields Community School in Brinkburn.

Meanwhile South Tyneside Marine College is to be the first in the country to offer a new foundation degree for Electro Technical Officers, a facility which allow them to be at the forefront of training pilots, something for which South Shields has a proud heritage. Various leading marine companies including BP, Chiltern Maritime, Bibby Line, ADNATCO, ACERGY, and Global Marine Systems have signed up and sponsored students through their degrees where they will graduate as fully qualified Electro Technical Officers.

This is once again an educational course mixed with on the job training, and in this scenario the training will be at sea for four and a half months before returning to South Shields to complete the degree.

As these endeavours go through their birth pains it is heartening to note that the Conservative candidate for South Shields Karen Allen, (pictured) has also been spending more time getting involved with young people, having spent time in the past as a teacher of English language abroad she has recently returned from a stint working with Conservative Party volunteers in the battle torn Rwanda, she has now devised a programme with her former school in Harton to pass on these experiences. She is also looking towards the future of politics in South Shields by reviving an institution that I was involved with in my youth. Back inthe 70s I was the Chairman of South Shields Young Conservatives and we had a lively and reasonably large group which somehow fell away after the local Conservative Association sold it’s HQ building in Westoe Road leaving nowhere for it’s younger members to meet back then. However Karen has plans to put that right now and has found a keen volunteer in local lad Phil Thornton and a few others to help her form a South Shields Branch of Conservative Future, CF aims to involve the under thirties in political, social, and community activities and will be a great way for youngsters with an interest in politics, civic pride, or community relations to get to know one another and take a more active role in local matters. If , like Karen Allen, you are under thirty and wish to get involved in helping the Conservatives in South Shields then get in touch with her now, her email address is

Just don’t expect to find any plummy accents, silver spoons, Richard Bransons or multi millionaires, this is South Shields after all, just expect to find folks like you or I.

So, there you are, the future is bright, the future is in the hands of the youth.

They aren’t all yobs with asbos!

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Written by curly

November 27, 2009 at 8:37 pm

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