Investing In Transitions

Any bar room discussion where the word “transition” recurs is likely to be focused on the UK’s transition period due to kick in as the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. There are other, and we would say, equally complicated and life determining transitions that need to be made. As a former global talent leader with experience managing talent in over one hundred countries I consider that the education to work and training transition experiences offered to young people in the UK are letting down a generation. I am not alone in this.

A House of Lords select committee found, in February, that the apprenticeship system was “woefully inadequate”. The levy system, designed to ensure that three million people start an apprenticeship by 2020, is – on the evidence of new starts – actively repelling rather than encouraging employers to invest in apprenticeships.

Ofsted inspects the support system for apprenticeships: the colleges and training providers that offer the vocational training. They have concluded that 51% are either inadequate or needing improvement. Meantime, a January 2018 CIPD survey found that employers were actively engaged in “rebadging” training for existing employees as an apprenticeship in order to recoup the costs of the levy. The need for some agreed “red lines” here is clear.

Ethical trade addresses the ethical aspects of organisations including worker welfare. Many multinational organisations have adopted ethical trade policies that are policed by auditors monitoring the conditions of workers in their supply chains. Coherent with this good practice you might expect to find that, within the UK, there are no unpaid internships: you would be wrong. Between 70,000 and 100,000 unpaid internships are estimated to take place in the UK every year. Many of these young people work in London and certain industries have now established career entry routes that customarily rely on “serving an internship” as part of a threshold experience. Curious that, in years past, the commonplace phrase would have been “serving an apprenticeship” and yet today the legal status and, therefore, the remuneration – if any – due to an intern is a matter for the courts. When is an intern not an employee? Perhaps when they are a volunteer? Are they entitled to the National Minimum Wage: it depends.

Given all of this complexity, the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility report “Overlooked and left behind” (April 2016) was surely correct in concluding that: “Every young person should have access to independent, impartial careers advice.” Careers education and guidance are important for social mobility. This is because knowing about the options available, and the skills needed to navigate those options, are a key part of a successful transition to work. The Education Act 2011, which made schools responsible for providing independent and impartial careers advice and guidance, also defined “independent” as “provided other than by a teacher employed or engaged at the school, or any other person employed at the school”. Impartial was defined as “showing no bias towards any education or work option”. Whilst these definitions are helpful, schools could be forgiven for being confused given that the same Act also removed their statutory duty to provide careers education!

Realistically, the funding and performance table system does not incentivise schools to give independent careers advice. It is hardly surprising that the House of Lords heard repeated testimony confirming what The Prince’s Trust told Peers, that: “schools have become increasingly focused on preparing for exams and less focused on preparing young people for the world of work.”

On the evidence so far cited, I would contend that the need for excellent, independent career advice based on a strong foundation of careers education is now more important than it has been for decades. For economic, social, mobility, skills, health and moral reasons we should be investing in helping young people make their transition from school to work because the dilemmas they face are huge.

How To Find Work You Love

Scott Dinsmore quit a job that made him miserable, and spent the next four years wondering how to find work that was joyful and meaningful. He shares what he learned in this deceptively simple talk about finding out what matters to you — and then getting started doing it.

Why you should listen

According to a Deloitte research study, over 80 per cent of people don’t enjoy their work.  Scott wanted to find out what it is that sets the twenty per cent apart: the people who do the passionate, world-changing work, that wake up inspired every day. Discover what he found out!

Sadly, in September 2015, three years after recording this TED talk, Scott was struck by a boulder as it tumbled down the 19,000-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro peak he was climbing  with his wife of five years as part of their adventure around the world. Scott was 33 when he died.

Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career

In this funny and blunt talk, Larry Smith pulls no punches when he calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions.

Why you should listen

Larry Smith is a professor of economics at University of Waterloo. A well-known storyteller and advocate for youth leadership, he has also mentored many of his students on start-up business management and career development. The most notable start-up he advised in its infancy is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry.

Discussion about this blunt and challenging TED talk centres on what passion really means and costs but, as Carmine Gallo wrote in Forbes, what you will see here “in this TED Talk is essentially thirty years of Smith’s frustrations reaching a boiling point.” “Wasted talent is a waste I cannot stand,” and this talk is Smith’s response.

Challenging and – possibly – motivating too.

Career Development With Devex

Devex describes itself as the media platform for the global development community. For those in – or seeking entry to – that community Devex is a source of information of growing importance. Devex claims to have an audience of more than one million people engaged in the development sector, to have placed thousands of people into jobs through its important recruitment marketplace and to have contributed significantly to the sector’s business development through its role as an informed source of grant and contract opportunities.

Devex casts its net wide: it considers the development, health, humanitarian, and sustainability sector and professionals working within these fields to be part of its global network. There are now more than 900,000 registered members within this international development community – including development organisations, donor agencies, suppliers and aid workers. In all, Devex claims more than 1 million active users.

Using a range of tools Devex enables its user community to access a searchable database of over 700,000 professionals and a directory of more than 12,000 development organisations. It has become a leading source of information about projects being funded by agencies across the globe.

This is remarkable growth over a period of the 18 or so years since Raj Kumar, then a student at Harvard’s School of Government, converted the ideas behind Devex into a workable precursor as part of a student project. Kumar, now editor in chief of Devex, aims to provide for the development sector what Bloomberg and The Financial Times have for the financial markets: accurate, plentiful and searchable information.

For the professional engaged in their own career development Devex is a virtual ‘honey pot’. The clearing house of information on development projects provides the intelligence needed to anticipate where opportunities may exist in a few months time. Real time vacancy information pulls in the active job seeker, those coming to the end of existing contracts and aid professionals whose careers have stalled with their existing employers. Webinars on a range of career development topics (including networking, charting a global health career, STEM careers in the aid sector, etc.) provide added value for the serious career professional. A continually updated tender notification service offers leads for business development specialists, contractors and consultants.

Investment in international aid remains strong – the money in USAID’s budget was $15.4billion in 2018 rising to $39.3billion for fiscal 2019. Devex occupies a key role in staff sourcing and career development in this sector. Admittedly, Devex charges for certain premium services and prices access to more senior vacancies but, if you are in the aid sector or seeking to break into it your curriculum vitae should feature there and Devex should be a part of your career development toolkit.