Preparing the Ground

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In agriculture it is important to prepare the ground in order to help fresh shoots grow. As part of the preparation for the task of encouraging economic growth, the Inclusive Economic Growth KLOE held a very successful second meeting on Friday (25th). These are truly fascination meetings with the air electrically charged with wonderful ideas, discussions, and anecdotal evidence adduced.

Now I can’t claim to be able to follow all the discussion, but with Directors, Professors, Lecturers, Assistant Principals and other eminent thinkers present I can possibly be forgiven for getting a little lost sometime. One thing clearly in its favour is that it is a relatively acronym free discussion.

There is also a genuine high level of passion present. Everyone there – regardless of their status – is there because they want to see an end to economic exclusion. They are looking for solutions, practical, workable, implementable solutions, to the major issues of unemployment, social and economic deprivation, and poverty.

At Friday’s meeting topics covered included how to deal with the skills mismatch, where our schools and colleges are turning our people with skills our local business don’t want or need. How we can help prepare our young people to become, “work ready”? Teaching them to understanding that to keep a job you need to get up every morning and go to work on time; you need to be able to dress appropriately; you need to be polite, and be professional in how you answer the telephone. Skills that may seem self evident but which Businesses report are basic skills that are often lacking.

The ability to create a good CV requires skill too, and we currently tend to place a very high value on educational qualifications and display these prominently on our CV’s. Some of Friday’s discussion explored ways to harness our wider life-skills, i.e. things we do in our spare time, hobbies, interests, skills we may not even consider to be skills. We develop skills in the pursuit of our personal interest and often these are very valuable and essential skills. To understand our potential contribution to the work force it was suggested we consider the idea, promoted in Irish schools, of the “Transition Year”.

The aim of the Transition Year:-

“…is to promote the personal, social, educational and vocational development of pupils and to prepare them for their role as autonomous, participative and responsible members of society.”

Sounds like a great idea! Our young school children are all going to end up in the ‘real world’ at the end of their school days – does it not make sense to prepare them for it?

Other discussions examined ways to encourage the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s). Further thought was devoted to the need to encourage and promote entrepreneurial ability. One successful example cited was the creation of the Balti. What a wonderful and financially successful idea that has been forBirmingham.

Further thought was devoted to the creation of more Social Enterprises and the significant role they could play in dealing both with economic inequality and unemployment.

These are still early days for this KLOE and it will probably continue after the others have drawn to a close, given the long term nature of Economic Growth but, whatever the outcome it will certainly be a rich a fruitful endeavour and the preparation undertaken now will ensure that whatever new shoots do push through, are able to flourish and grow in to full maturity. Watch this space…

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