Its that time of year, here in West Sussex. Lots of Year 10 students trying to secure their week work experience placement for February 2017.
We usually get 8-10 applications. We ask each student to send us an email or text as to why they want to work here. Most have never looked at our website, and the schools have us listed as graphic designers. The remaining couple of applicants are asked to visit with a parent for a look round.
It is a huge pleasure to see their eyes light up as they realise they will not only be designing but also making real things by the end of the week.
We spend a lot of time forming a project that these youngsters can see through from start to finish in a week. Sometimes it goes awry if a big, urgent order comes in, but mostly they go home with something they have made for their rooms or their bikes. Young people need investment and nurturing, and it is an honour to be their first experience of the work place.
Increasingly the school, we find, take that responsibility less seriously. They teach on out of date software, using applications that are no longer used by trade. We had one student who had only be taught in inches (yes, a 15 year old!). Many have never used a tape measure before.
But what they cannot tell you about social media and YouTube is not worth knowing!
It's a familiar story and many small businesses locally tell me they have the same experience. If schools cannot equip students with the skills they need to be a valuable member of the work place, then what hope is there for the next generation?