No matter what path a young person takes out of education, they are going to have to manage four key relationships throughout the rest of their lives. Whether they want to or not, they will always have a relationship with property, a relationship with money, a relationship with employment and a relationship with the state.
1. A roof over their heads
All of us need somewhere to live but the situation for this generation of young people is vastly different than that experienced by their parents and grandparents. The rise in house prices compared to earnings, the increase in rents, a shortage of housing for first time-buyers – all of these things have made it harder for young people to leave the parental nest and build their own lives as independent adults.
2. Looking after the pennies…
Managing your money isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone and it’s a skill that has often been overlooked in our push to raise educational standards. Young people are confronted with a myriad of financial options from a very young age. With the introduction of student fees, most graduates can expect to start their adult lives with the equivalent of a small mortgage in student debt and those who don’t go on to higher education are constantly offered store cards, credit cards, payday loans and a range of other ways of adding to their personal debt.
Keep the Cash! is the best thing I’ve seen for improving functional maths skills, collaborative working, communication skills and teaching pupils to analyse and evaluate situations and reflect effectively on their findings.
John Lee, Regional Adviser for Mathematics, Department for Education:
3. Building a career
Most of us recognise that the way to build the life you want is to get a job and earn money to pay for it. However, a lack of jobs for young people, combined with low wage growth and a high cost of living, means that getting a job is just the first step on a path to building the life they want. In a world where jobs for life are just a distant memory, young people need to be much more savvy about the way in which they build their career. They need to seek out the right opportunities, take on the right training, and remain active in managing their career throughout their lives.
4. The state we’re in
No matter what our political views (or lack of them), we all have a relationship with the state that impacts upon everything that we do. We all pay tax, whether we want to or not (try telling your local supermarket you don’t want to pay VAT on your next shopping bill and see how far you get), so it’s important that we encourage active citizenship in our young people. Making them aware of how they can influence the state is a further step in helping them to manage their own lives more effectively.
Developing skills for life
These four relationships aren’t something you can walk away from. They persist, no matter how actively you participate in them, so it’s vital to develop the life skills to manage them well. That is something we should be supporting in all our young people, as they move from education into the world of work, because the world they now live in has changed dramatically in a very short space of time: A degree no longer guarantees a higher salary; finding somewhere to live is fraught with difficulty; saving for the future can now take an entire lifetime.
But with the right skills, we can help them to find a way through these difficulties, enabling them to build the life they aspire to and putting them on the path to success.