Time for Fat Cats to Lap Up School Challenge; ANALYSIS Discovering Talented Young People Should Be the Joint Responsibility of Business Leaders and Teachers, Says John Phillips, Regional Director of the Institute of Directors

The Birmingham Post (England), May 3, 2007 | Go to article overview

Time for Fat Cats to Lap Up School Challenge; ANALYSIS Discovering Talented Young People Should Be the Joint Responsibility of Business Leaders and Teachers, Says John Phillips, Regional Director of the Institute of Directors


Some of the great business minds of tomorrow may be languishing, unrecognised and unrewarded in our local schools and colleges.

Those pupils and students might - if they are caught early enough - one day be running the biggest and most successful companies in Britain.

It is time for the business community to come forward and get into the schools; to identify potential and giving those who possess it every opportunity to make the most of their talents.

We at the Institute of Directors want to play a leading role in forging links between education and business to ensure that no one slips through the cracks.

Business is an exciting career for young people.

Along with estate agents and politicians, company directors tend not to have too good a public image.

We are thought of merely as Fat Cats but nothing could be further from the truth.

It is therefore up to us to spread the word in schools that business is fun, profitable and supports our society by creating wealth.

We know that it is often the academically brighter children that progress into professional roles - lawyers, accountants and doctors.

However, the Richard Bransons of the world do not necessarily have great qualifications.

Perhaps they may have just one or two GCSEs or O-Levels.

Sometimes they can even be regarded as a disruptive influence and do all they can to leave as soon as possible.

Great business minds need not necessarily be the brightest children in schools and the onus is on the education system and business leaders to bring on any student who might have the acumen for business.

Integrity, common sense and team work are just as important to business success.

Teachers often find it difficult to spot in their young charges the talents that might lend themselves to a career in business. It is a self-perpetuating problem.

School to university to teacher training and back to school may not be the best route as there can be no practical experience of running a business which is why education/business partnerships are so important.

If teachers lack business experience how then are we to expect school leavers to have any real sense of the business world and the careers they might choose?

As well as giving time to our young students business can also help by providing school governors.

Most headmasters are very well qualified as teachers but actually run quite large businesses with an average turnover of a secondary school easily between pounds 10 and pounds 15 million.

However, an arts degree may not be the best foundation for them to cope with their many challenges.

Education and business can come together in a partnership that proves beneficial for all concerned.

The school children can get an insight into what business is all about, while business leaders can tap into the next generation of business employees. Sometimes, in the past, there has been reluctance from business leaders to get too heavily involved with schools.

Five to ten years ago, schools were always short of money and companies were approached for funding, which tended to put people off.

However, the message now needs to be that schools need us to give time, arguably the most valuable thing we have but it is a double-sided coin with both sides benefiting. The IoD has been very involved in different ways.

We have a working committee chaired by a head master and supported by working directors.

The IoD has adopted some 12 schools across the West Midlands where we think we can make a real difference.

Last week, we took 70 children from local schools in Birmingham and Worcester to our annual convention at the Royal Albert Hall in London. While there, they were able to hear from a very high calibre of business speakers.

We do everything we can to support industry days and career advice and are very supportive of any practical live business projects. …

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Time for Fat Cats to Lap Up School Challenge; ANALYSIS Discovering Talented Young People Should Be the Joint Responsibility of Business Leaders and Teachers, Says John Phillips, Regional Director of the Institute of Directors
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