Jobless youth

A recent article in The Daily Telegraph suggests the problem of the jobless youth is one of the most important facing society today. It’s not that there are no jobs out there; rather that the available openings require skills that young people simply don’t have. Leading to a frightening wave of austerity-stoked, chronically depressed young people across the country.

The world of work is currently out of sync with the world of education. This dangerous mismatch between the needs of employers and of job seeking youngsters is not only resulting in high youth unemployment but arresting economic development. Youth unemployment currently hovers around 20 per cent, with the total number expected to reach more than a million again this year.

As the needs of employers change to reflect new pressures of finance, resource costs, carbon and biodiversity, the way that knowledge and information is used for problem solving is starting to shift at the same speed. With unlimited information available for free online, the art of asking good questions is becoming more powerful than knowledge itself. Organisations who value challenge and questions as well as knowledge will build resilience.

Concerns such as those raised by the 40% of Institute of Directors members who thought that young people were unprepared for the world of work would be countered by young people having practiced solving real issues before they apply for their first job.

As the economy recalibrates to new measures of success and approaches such as Cradle to Cradle and ‘circular economy’ drive the development of new products and services, a new set of thinking and doing skills will be needed by the workforce of the future. A more sustainably competent pool of job candidates, for all positions from secretary to manager, is key to resilience and staying in business. Throw this in the mix with the problems facing our planet and the future looks rather challenging.

Can surfing help save the planet and aid the economy? Whether you ride big waves or not, there are lessons to be learnt. We’ve got to get the next generation up to speed with the size and scale of the challenges ahead. The worlds best big wave surfers didn’t wake up one morning, paddle out and surf some of the biggest waves ever ridden. They started by surfing small waves, by studying the ocean, swimming mile after mile and holding their breath under water for minutes at a time. They understood the size and scale of the challenge and made sure they were ready.

TYF’s adventure activities and surfing in particular help prepare pupils by building a set of key skills around questioning, balance, creativity, leadership innovation and collaboration. Wild environments like the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park allow kids to learn about and understand risk. They can then apply these skills to some of the futures biggest challenges relating to jobs, food, carbon, energy, biodiversity and resources.

A few years ago, we realised that better links could be made between learning outside the classroom and the skills that children need for a future determined by major challenges. By adding our knowledge of sustainability, risk awareness, design, problem solving, biomimicry and experiences of initiating country-scale change with government and business to the mix, we know that more than ever we can change lives.

Supporting teachers and change-makers in education is a big part of our focus, with a particular focus on preparing the next generation of leaders for a very different future. We work with over 60 schools that range from tailor-made residentials for groups from public schools, through to whole year programmes for secondary schools. Through TYF Connect, our community interest company, we are just about to start delivery of a three year sustainability innovation programme that will be delivered to every 15-18 year old in Pembrokeshire.

If you are interested in exploring the potential value of creating a unique nature / adventure programme, connecting head, heart and soul to community and curriculum, then drop the education team a line on 01437 721611 or email

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