The Journal Opinion: Schools can only do so much. Teenagers have to take responsibility too

The Journal's opinion column for Saturday, December 27, in which we look at the findings of a survey into bosses' attitudes to school leavers

Two apprentices
Two apprentices

The findings of a new survey about school leavers’ entry into business make for worrying reading.

More than one in three employers say the 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds they are taking on are poor or very poor. That’s bad enough – what is worse is that the local picture is far bleaker than the national one.

A variety of reasons have been raised. Some are things we can and must tackle through the North East Schools Challenge that will hopefully soon kick into gear.

We must improve links between schools and businesses and we must continue to improve the quality, quantity and range of apprenticeships – as we have consistently pushed through our Proud to Back Apprenticeships campaign.

We must get the message to schools and careers advisers that university does not have to be the number one option for every pupil. And we must give teenagers the specific skills to make a running start in their chosen career.

But something else is at play here. This isn’t just the duty of schools. Teenagers and their parents must also take responsibility.

The findings show that an uncomfortably large number of teenagers have the wrong attitude for work. Some don’t get to work on time.

School can’t fix these things. Young workers have to do that. Maybe they come from workless households – yet such cycles must be broken.

It’s time to take responsibility. For those that do, the help will be there.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer