Basil McCrea responds to DEL Inquiry into careers advice in Northern Ireland

During the Assembly discussion (here) on the recently published DEL report on careers education and guidance in Northern Ireland (here), Basil McCrea made a number of points. On the issue of university graduates Basil said:
"It is entirely up to people what degree they take — it is a free world — but there is a mismatch between their skills and those that employers are looking for. Universities and further education colleges have a clear responsibility. They are independent bodies. They say that they respond to demand, but they respond to the demand from students. They need to make sure that they respond to the demand from industry to encourage the right numbers into the right degrees... 
...people want to get a 2:1; they do not care what that 2:1 is in, it is just about getting a 2:1. It is as though a piece of paper will somehow give them the rationale for being employed. That is not actually the case. We need to get people more interested in obtaining the skills that the labour market will pay them for."
During a mayoral round-table here, Charlie Rose was told by a number of American civic leaders that there needs to be a close link between education and industry. On the issue of NEETS and other less skilled young people, Basil said:
"We have been hearing that 25% of people in Northern Ireland live on less than a living wage, which is the highest percentage in the United Kingdom. That seems to pose a problem. Part of the decision-making on that is whether young people in those areas are actually work-ready. Many of them do not understand the tribulations of the world of work. It is not enough to give them work experience where they go in and make the tea or sit around and look at things; we need more intensive mentoring. We really need to give help and succor on a more one-to-one basis to the people who need it."
The major of Chicago Rahm Emanual explained here to Charlie Rose that his executive have created an initiative called BAM (Becoming A Man) which provides mentoring and advice to young and at-risk adolescents. On the issue of parents and careers advice, Basil said:
"The creative industries are one of our big growth industries, yet nobody actually knows how to get into them. We also have an issue regarding IT professionals. People keep saying that, if we could solve that problem, we could solve everything. So, there is something about how we convince parents that this is where the creative industries are. 
We need role models and to find ways to get information to people. With regard to areas that we might look at in the future, we did not include in the recommendations, as far as I can see, business and entrepreneurial activity. That will be a factor in the future. 
...Coming to the point that Mr Ross raised about how to get information across to people and what influences decision-making, you probably have parents, peers, teachers and TV at the moment. We talked about how we can encourage parents to know more. There is an issue, in that our teachers tend not to know about things in IT and can recommend only what they know about. You get to an issue such as television, and I wonder whether maybe we, as a society or as an Executive, need to start to communicate where our growth sectors are. That, at least, gets the message out. I am struck by the fact that there is an overabundance of lawyers and probably teachers and that we perhaps need to let people know that that is the case."
Read the Plenary debate in full here. Watch Basil's contributions here. Read the full report by the DEL Committee on careers guidance in Northern Ireland here.

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