BUSINESS EYE: Young talent holds the key

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Every entrepreneur I know believes passionately that our education system needs to be more relevant to the opportunities of the 21st century and less suited to the Victorian era for which it was first designed.

We used to need cloned minds to fit the command and control Empire that sought order, consistency and what was expected. That world is long gone and today we need young talents who can think for themselves, and create jobs rather than look for one. Even setting up in your bedroom is history because WiFi and the smartphone have put paid to the need for the bedroom.

We are witnessing the exponential acceleration of connectivity and technology through the internet and huge political and economic shifts, plus the collapse of confidence in the press, politicians and police. Such change needs to be reflected in the education journey between childhood and work, which still remains too focused on academic excellence and under-rates essential modern life skills such as an enterprising attitude, the ability to sell yourself or an idea, and being capable of contributing effectively to teams focused on problem solving in real time.

I was therefore delighted to be invited to Aylesbury Grammar School last week to judge the output of a couple of days of enterprising ideas and toil from Year 10.

The top six teams had each focused on a different interesting idea to improve school life. Some team members had thrived and contributed way more than others and a handful of students really shone out from their normal approach to studies, a good pointer perhaps towards some likely entrepreneurs.

The projects ranged from a very well thought-through student favourite of upgrading the old sports hall for modern community use, to a volunteering programme that appealed to staff in its approach to moving forward and beginning the journey of understanding as Churchill put it that “... you make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”

We were struck by the high quality of the presentations and the extent of the innovative thinking, including an app to connect student, staff and alumni with school life.

I was impressed by the team that showed the inner confidence to cheekily but subtly take the mick out of the judges.

Businesses and schools can be serious places and without the right balance of fun and challenge they never make the most of their potential.