Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 31st August 2016

As August draws to a close I am reminded that for many Crawley residents September marks the start of a new year. While the formal year begins in January, the financial year in April and arguably the political year begins with the May elections, for Crawley’s young people every September marks the start of a new phase of their lives.

For most kids—and for that matter teachers and parents—this means gearing up for the challenges of the new school year. For other young people it involves getting ready to move on from school, whether that means going to university, moving into vocational education or going straight on to employment. Whichever direction they have chosen to take I wish them the best of luck.

Unfortunately not every young person is so well prepared for that next step. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate there are nearly 850,000 young people not in education, employment or training. That so many are being left behind is a personal tragedy for those affected and a real cost to the UK’s economy.

While it was great to see all the smiling faces over exam results in recent papers, in a year which has seen GCSE pass rates fall we mustn’t forget that there will be many for whom results day was not an event to celebrate.

We place so much pressure on our young people to succeed so early in their lives, at a time when many of them are still trying to find out who they are and deal with various personal struggles. While qualifications are an important part of getting on in life, it would be wrong to allow them to cast a pall over a lifetime.

Ultimately it’s a person’s character which defines their life and determines what they have to contribute. Crawley Borough Council’s Employment and Skills Strategy recognises that just as an economy grows and changes, people need that same chance to grow and change over time and we are working hard to produce the opportunities locally that enable residents to find the road ahead.

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