As more and more young people emerge from school with more and more good quality GCSEs, you might think it’d be easy for them to find jobs. After all, who wouldn’t want a sixteen year old with thirteen outstanding qualifications? Unfortunately it’s becoming harder even for school leavers with A-levels, with employers more likely to favour university graduates.

On one hand, I can understand why it is that employers may prefer this more ‘traditional’ approach. It’s safer for the company as they know that the person they are hiring has knowledge in whichever field it is they choose to work, and for the student, years of hard work and dedication has paid off. However, just because someone hasn’t got a degree- or two, does not mean that they do not have a head for business, a natural talent for something. But even students with the best potential are overlooked because of the extra degree.

This is the problem many sixteen year olds are facing across Britain. With university tuition fees increasing and the recession dragging us even further into debt, for some it’s not that they don’t want to go to university; it’s that they simply cannot afford it. So it’s this generation who have to suffer the injustice of being overlooked and not even given a chance to make their mark on the world of work. The stereotypical view of the teenaged school leaver is of someone who doesn’t want to work; who is they’re unmotivated and entirely focused on their newfound freedom. I can personally say with the greatest confidence that this is untrue. I know that there are many sixteen year olds with goals, and the ambition and potential to fulfil them; in fact, my friend and I were discussing just a short while ago what we would do if, for some crazy reason, we couldn’t get into university. It was a short conversation, as neither of us imagine that future for ourselves. I firmly believe there are many young people who share this level of determination and ambition, and I find it deeply unjust that many school leavers cannot reach their goals because businesses are unwilling to give them the opportunity.

At the moment, I am in the middle of a work-experience placement with Wolfestone Translation.  It has already given me clear insight into how a company functions, and how things that might just start as an idea can blossom into something bigger than you’d expect. There are sixteen year olds with those sort of ideas; for example Mark Zuckerberg, the creator and founder of ‘Facebook‘. He was not even sixteen when he set up what is now the world’s leading social network; I believe role models such as this show that a young mind can be just as useful as an older one.

There are many careers that someone can choose; for myself, I’m looking at languages and/or journalism. Both are subjects that I am passionate about, interested in, and have high ambitions for; which I think are key components to choosing a career. I plan on going to college, and taking A-level English, French, and History. However, I didn’t take History as a GCSE course! I’m sure that many people might ask ’How are you going to get an A-level in a subject you didn’t even take for GCSE?’ My answer: do a GCSE in one year of the course, and the A-level in the second, or take nightclasses. In fact, this way I come out the better with an extra GCSE! I also plan on going to university and getting two degrees, either English/French, or English/History.

I am just one of many young people who have these ambitions. But, if I don’t get into university, do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take online courses, extra classes, until I get my degrees! And that’s what I urge sixteen year olds who find themselves in that situation to do – take the initiative and accomplish what you set out to do! There are young people that already have done and are doing this, and it is young people like these that, in my opinion, who show big companies exactly why hiring a sixteen or seventeen year old can be just as rewarding as hiring a 25 year old with a degree.

SHANNON HIGGINSON

 

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