Thank you to everyone for contributing, and I hope that Prelude and Growth Britain will continue to inspire business owners and start ups across the country to drive innovation and growth. Keep up the good work.

Lord Young, Enterprise Adviser to the
Prime Minister

Join the debate! Tell us what you would do to make Great Britain, Growth Britain and let us know which ideas you agree or disagree with.

Submit your idea.

Skills & Training

Votes: 8 Dislikes: 4

Reinvent careers guidance and focus on ‘skills development’ for young Brits

1. There are 1.5 million young people out of work across the UK.

2. The UK’s creative industries (as listed by NESTA, including digital innovation) are booming and contribute hugely to the UK economy.

3. Careers advice neglects to help school leavers understand their options and the potential opportunities open to them across the entrepreneurial and creative sectors.

4. Apprenticeships and internships are regularly stated as highly beneficial to both employers and young people.


Let’s make more positive, collaborative connections between the creative industries and young people nationwide.

Let’s challenge more creative and entrepreneurial businesses to introduce One More Desk into their studios.

Let’s reinvent what it means to provide school and college leavers with careers guidance, and turn it into ‘skills development’.

Let’s make it about new skills, new horizons and nurturing an enterprising, creative courage in young people to get out there and make something good.


2014 marks 100 years since the First World War, which resulted in a “lost generation”.

Let’s think creatively now, to avoid another lost generation.

Starting in 2014.


Lucy Johnston
Bright Young Brits

Lucy Johnston, The Neon Birdcage / Bright Young Brits | Fri 10th Jan 2014 at 17:08

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This is a re-interpretation of one of my proposals from weeks ago, but thanks for expanding it Lucy.
Simon Clark, SJC Systems Limited | Tue 14th Jan 2014 at 00:48

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Skills & Training

Votes: 24 Dislikes: 6

Encourage more Internships

One of the best sources of talent and growth for our business has been Internships.

Encouraging closer connections between entrepreneurial businesses and schools/ colleges would help.

Positioning to graduates/ school leavers what life is like in a fast growing company and providing easy channels/ incentives for them to work with early stage businesses would bring benefits for fresh talent and growing businesses.
Caspar Craven, Trovus | Fri 13th Dec 2013 at 10:09

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I fully agree with this proposal. Personally, I have done 6 internships during my studies and each of them has helped me to assess what I would like to do and what I don't like to do.

To be fair, growing up most of us are heavily influenced by our peers / parents / teachers / the society on what we should do and what not. I have tried to meet their expectations for years until I realized that I won't become happy with my life until I fully focus on what I want. Figuring that out took me almost 10 years, so the earlier you start the better it is, I believe.
Lu Li, House of Li | Fri 13th Dec 2013 at 14:13

I quite agree and have been trying to make connections / gain interns / placements through this year with little success to date! Hopefully things are about to change, but my experience has shown little sense of urgency from the education sector - it needs some drive and backup to get these intelligent and potentially highly motivated individuals into a real working / entrepreneurial environment - this could really help make Great Britain really Growth Britain!
nick broom, PVL UK ltd | Mon 16th Dec 2013 at 13:34

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Skills & Training

Votes: 21 Dislikes: 3

Leverage 'alternative' types of investors

SEIS has been just one example of the UK government trying to stimulate investment - and in many ways it has worked. In practical ways it only really makes sense for those of a high net worth where opportunities to write off an investment against a large looming tax bill represents an attractive alternative (plus all the other associated benefits of SEIS, including relief on Capital Gains, etc).
However I'd also like to see some extra initiatives to stimulate the 'smaller' investor and encourage independent mentors to step forward and foster innovation. To encourage the £1k-£25k 'cherubs' - not angels - to support new concepts through to production. It seems there is a fair amount of disposable cash which doesn't exactly generate much of a return in the bank, not to mention lousy annuities. So I suggest we encourage those sitting on enough disposable cash to justify a diversified 'punt' in startups, through tax breaks - relative to total earnings/wealth and investment. It would be useful to see new experience and veteran wisdom offered to optimistic and enthusiastic entrepreneurs but we need to concentrate on nurturing the skills of the investor as well as preparing entrepreneurs for pitching.
Seedrs, KickStarter, CrowdCube and co. have done a lot to help in this space but I hope to see more taking place in more traditional (offline) investment 'arenas'.

Jack Symons, Treetops BD | Wed 11th Dec 2013 at 14:27

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Skills & Training

Votes: 10 Dislikes: 2

Celebrate British Enterprise DRIVE Day at Wembley

Fill Wembley Stadium with those interested in learning Enterprise secrets - entertain with inspirational speakers, learning events in skills required to build enterprise and generally take the world by storm by staking a claim to the innovation agenda where British business leaders celebrate the importance of people in the growth factor. The enormity of ambition "Live Aid" for business would gain enormous international free media coverage, would be free to air with a little government support, should be for all age-groups and should be a day of great opportunity for GB to make a global growth statement.
Lara Morgan, Fun-ctionality | Mon 9th Dec 2013 at 20:51

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Skills & Training

Votes: 314 Dislikes: 30

Make Great Britain more attractive for high net worth Chinese shopping tourists

Attracting more Chinese tourists is an immense lever to grow the UK luxury retail industry, because they spend three times as much as the average overseas tourist. In 2012, the total of their spending in the UK was £300m. However, as a group, they only accounted for 1% of all overseas visitors. Hence, there is tremendous opportunity for further growth!

One of the key obstacles for Chinese tourists to visit Britain so far has been the cumbersome process to apply for a visa. Thankfully, the government has already acted upon this and announced a simplification process to be put in place.

While this will definitely help to get more Chinese tourists into the country, the British luxury retail industry must also do their homework accordingly, if they want to maximize rewards.

It is important to understand that Chinese high net worth individuals travel no longer in large groups, but rather as independent travellers or in small VIP groups. Moreover, their shopping needs are very different.

They are not interested in the quick sale, but show an interest in learning about the intricacies of a brand or experience other special arrangements that can be shared with family and friends upon returning home.

This represents a great opportunity to market the many great British fashion brands, department stores and shopping malls in a new way and establish customer loyalty.

Winning affluent Chinese shopping tourists over goes way beyond accepting Union Pay and having Mandarin-speaking staff. Strategic engagement and focus on reputation as well as personalized service will be crucial to the deliver the wanted “experience”.

More visas will bring China’s increasingly discerning luxury customers into the door, but the experience will form the basis of a lasting relationship. Is Britain ready for that?

Lu Li, House of Li | Tue 3rd Dec 2013 at 14:42

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While It is important to add and improve the experience for tourists.
We cannot rely on tourism to grow our economy.

At present British Towns, Cities, Brands and High streets do an awful lot to meet the demand of tourism interests and various cultures who all contribute to our economy.

The UK can grow and market its services, experience, and things like what you are suggesting via the internet and while your idea does open up a market for people to supply bespoke trips and experiences, a contribution of £300 million although a very great contribution is neither here nor there in the growth of our economy.

The UK is estimated to spend £87bn this year on online shopping, so concentrating on high net worth is not going to grow our economy.

We have some of the worlds most famous stores, brands and an a fashion industry worth between £21-£37 billion.

Every British service and brand that I can think of have a comprehensive and detailed website/App and for people to use free of charge.

And finally with the UK estimated to spend £87bn this year on online shopping concentrating on high net worth is not going to grow our economy.

I am also sure that the Chinese do not only come for our shops.
Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Wed 4th Dec 2013 at 16:08

Many thanks for your feedback. I think we need to be careful not to mix apples with oranges in this debate, so I would like to respond to each area separately:

1) Size of the market: While the current contribution is around £300 million, it is more than likely to multiply in the near future with the visa regulation simplification. Also, such new services as I am proposing can be easily extended to other groups of high net worth overseas visitors like Russia, the Middle East, India and Brazil. Together, these people represent a spending power of _a few billions_ pounds. I don’t think the UK is in a comfortable position to neglect this spending power (other countries are certainly not!).

2) Inbound marketing of British high streets, cities and brands: Doing a lot of things does not equal doing the RIGHT things. The path of purchase starts in the traveller’s native country and ends at the cashier in a UK shop. Have a guess: In how many touch points are the British high streets currently present?

Just taking pride in having the world’s famous stores and brands won’t be effective in engaging the modern discerning consumer. Paris, Milan and New York have equally famous shopping outlets, but what is going to make a difference to the consumer is a retail industry that truly listens to their needs and is catering to these needs. This way, the UK can really stand out as a preferred holiday destination.

3) Online shopping vs. in-store shopping: These are two completely separate retail areas and I don’t see why either one should be preferred to the other. There is growth to be achieved in both areas.

4) Reason of trip: I am afraid to let you know that the main reason why many Chinese come to London is shopping. You might not like it, but it is a fact.

5) Short-term vs. long-term: Lastly, I would like to emphasize that this is only one idea out of many to grow Great Britain. By no means I am saying that the UK should RELY on Chinese tourists to grow its eco
Lu Li, House of Li | Sat 7th Dec 2013 at 15:00

Apparently there is a maximum word count. To finish my point: By no means I am saying that the UK should RELY on Chinese tourists to grow its economy. However, it is a low-hanging fruit and tangible results can be achieved within the next 1-2 years. Might be interesting to consider…
Lu Li, House of Li | Sat 7th Dec 2013 at 15:02

Wouldn't it be far more profitable to take the mountain to Mohammed and ensure that British luxury goods are available to purchase in mainland China ?

Whether this meant providing grant assistance to a UK retail chain to expand into China, or by partnering with an existing chain out there, this would be far more accessible to both the upper and the middle classes.

I would propose that there should be a showroom area staffed by product specialists from the UK but also trained local people, thereby providing employment for them as well. Essentially a department store with the emphasis on product presentation and knowledge.
Simon Clark, SJC Systems Limited | Sun 8th Dec 2013 at 22:12

Hello Simon, thanks for your suggestion. I agree that having a presence in China would help British retailers as well. However, things are not that easy.

Firstly, it is not that easy to "expand into China"… there are a lot of regulations to be taken into account, it is a cumbersome process.

Also, there is a very high sales tax on luxury products in China, which is actually one of the main reasons why Chinese people prefer to buy the goods abroad. It's on average about 40-60% cheaper.

Then, you should know that the staff in department stores in China are badly trained. You will need A LOT of efforts to raise that to an acceptable standard.

And lastly, there is one more thing that comes to my mind which might sound surprising if not crazy to you, but that's just how things are in China… the thing I'm talking about is lack of trust. Discerning Chinese consumers have developed a certain distrust against their local stores/sales people. For example, it is not impossible that a Louis Vuitton store assistant secretly exchanges the goods in the inventory with AAA+ rated fake goods. So as a consumer you can really never be 100% sure that the luxury product you are buying is actually the real deal. So people prefer to buy abroad where they feel safe about their purchase.
Lu Li, House of Li | Fri 13th Dec 2013 at 14:25

I personally don't think the British high end retailers are bad at all, many would find your comments insulting.
I think you have found a niche for a bespoke service which could be altered for different nationalities.
I think there is a market for such service, and yes it will help the economy.

As for growing Britain, By targeting High net individuals from outside the UK who are clearly aiming at the fashion industry in London, you miss the whole objective.

Your Idea may help the fashion industry, and the economy in London.

Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Mon 16th Dec 2013 at 02:29

File this Proposal under the heading: Growth London.
David Blumenstein, TECHGB | Sat 15th Feb 2014 at 12:29

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Skills & Training

Votes: 22 Dislikes: 3

Resurrection of the UK manufacturing industry

There is no reason why manufacturing outside of the UK (i.e Southern Europe, China…) should be cheaper than manufacturing within the UK. This is particularly true of textiles, clothing etc. The government should introduce measures to revive the UK manufacturing industry, particularly in the regions outside of London.

These measures should include funding for skills training (e.g. very few people in the UK currently train to become a seamstress), traditional skills courses at local colleges, restoration of old/disused manufacturing facilities and factories, and preferential tax treatment for UK manufacturers (especially smaller startups who are creating jobs in high-unemployment areas).

Caroline Hazlehurst, Bridgepoint | Fri 29th Nov 2013 at 16:05

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I represent a UK manufacturing company (short-run mainly but capable of runs of up to several thousand). Part of the reason we don't get much work in larger scale projects is because our clients (large dept stores, retail brands) choose to shop overseas. The reason for this is most customers aren't willing to pay more for British made goods. If we could persuade retailers by 'voting on our feet', we may have a chance of stimulating the manufacturing industry in the UK
Jack Symons, Treetops BD | Fri 29th Nov 2013 at 19:20

Why should maunfacturing in UK be more expensive when the costs of shipping to and from Indonesia TAiwan and China is rising year on year?
Ewan hayes, hayestax limited | Tue 3rd Dec 2013 at 19:53

I heartily agree with Caroline: "The government should introduce measures to revive the UK manufacturing industry, particularly in the regions outside of London. These measures should include funding for skills training (e.g. very few people in the UK currently train to become a seamstress), traditional skills courses at local colleges, restoration of old/disused manufacturing facilities and factories, and preferential tax treatment for UK manufacturers (especially smaller startups who are creating jobs in high-unemployment areas)."

We outsource manufacturing to a new British production unit in Derbyshire. Our manufacturer is superb; dynamic, resourceful & producing high quality work. She found a great unit and we have orders & international interest coming in (3 wholesale enquiries from Japan this summer). The problem? She's funding her new enterprise with her own savings & finding it impossible to find the skilled staff needed. She's training people herself - together we have the capacity to create jobs in the UK - and we have been selling overseas from the start.

For all the talk of supporting entrepreneurialism in the UK, and helping to create jobs, there is no funding support materialising for hardworking start ups in the textile industry. High end fashion contributes approx £2 billion to the economy annually so why isn't there more financial support and encouragement for those entering that area? It's mad.

Sally Guyer, The Cambridge Raincoat Company | Fri 6th Dec 2013 at 06:08

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Skills & Training

Votes: 18 Dislikes: 1

Encourage relocation of entrepreneurs back to UK

I am British and live in the Bay Area of San Francisco. I have been involoved in a number of start up companies and know many successful British entrpreneurs in California. A number of them I know are interested in returning to the UK. If there were a scheme to encourage these business builders to return and set up a new venture I am sure it would be very positive for the UK economy
Martin Preuveneers, Minivax | Thu 28th Nov 2013 at 23:13

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Totally agree, we lose our best to the US. This happens over and over again. I often think of the UK as a US 'incubator'. I say we work on retaining our entrepreneurs and attracting overseas entrepreneurs
Jack Symons, Treetops BD | Fri 29th Nov 2013 at 15:26

Hi Martin, great idea!
Do you think, from your experience, that the environment for businesses is so poor in the UK, relative to the US, that specific incentive schemes would be required to get them to relocate back to the UK? Or is it just to offset the weather?
Ben Cook, Clever Tykes | Wed 4th Dec 2013 at 22:07

I'm a Brit that has lived and worked in the US for more than 30 years -- in the high-tech sector. Why not harness the skills and contacts of British Expats via the Internet? Perhaps the UKTI can start a directory of experienced start-up advisers that are willing to help UK entrepreneurs remotely. FYI, I'm in Austin Texas and already help to promote the visiting British delegation to SXSW.
David H Deans, GeoActive Group | Thu 5th Dec 2013 at 14:20

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Skills & Training

Votes: 7 Dislikes: 1

One key to Growth Britain: equipping entrepreneurs with the tools to get funded

One of the barriers to harnessing the exciting talent, inventions and ideas pool that we have in the UK, particularly amongst our younger entrepreneurs, is that we often don't provide low cost and simple ways to help them become properly equipped to apply for the wide variety of funding options available. This whole area is very disparate and can be so complex that the entrepreneur gives up and seeks full time employment. We should be adopting smart cloud tools as part of the solution, a couple of such tools are available. Large numbers of entrepreneurs require knowledge and support at minimal cost. Although there are some very good enterprise programmes (courses/mentoring etc) available, utilising the Cloud to deliver appropriate 'standards' in this space will go some way to helping resolve this

Paul Clarke, Venture Hothouse | Wed 27th Nov 2013 at 11:53

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Skills & Training

Votes: 12 Dislikes: 0

Identify. Encourage.

I still meet many young people who are unsure what entrepreneurship entails and the expectation of what can and should be done to become an entrepreneur and if they have the minerals to do it.

If a school/college can identify a potential footballer or author why can we not identify the potential future leaders and encourage, train, assist and guide them through education choices, relevant reading and on-going business support from "startup" to exit

Once agreed on this career plan and even once running trading and profitable businesses there is a skills and knowledge base missing. Many of the programs and systems are already in place to support the entrepreneur onwards but they need to be identified and assisted earlier.

Although entrepreneurship is now more widely known and accepted as a career choice had this been presented as a potential option to my generation we may be further ahead as a country in developing our entrepreneur "eco system"

Those that show an interest in enterprise could be identified earlier and supported better.

Gary Smith, Prism | Wed 27th Nov 2013 at 09:07

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Skills & Training

Votes: 6 Dislikes: 0


An apprenticeship is an apprenticeship regardless of age. The Govt cuts funding/support at 24 years of age.
There are many people in the working arena who are made redundant or have a change of career after 24 years of age but are not necessarily financially stable enough or eligible for grants/loans, etc (due to age) to get onto an apprenticeship scheme.

I believe ALL people should be entitled to training/re-training at least once in their life. What is pay a person to work (ie: an apprenticeship) or to pay them benefits?

Encouraging people to work will help the economy in the long run as :
a. the worker will gain a skill to earn from
b. the worker will gain self confidence & self worth
c. others will respect that individual for their work ethic & encourage/support them
d. the country will benefit from a skilled/trained workforce; more sme's (= more income for the govt!); & a more respectful Nation towards employers & employees alike

Joe della-Porta, della-Porta design Ltd | Tue 26th Nov 2013 at 23:48

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Skills & Training

Votes: 9 Dislikes: 0

Make CSR more innovative to positively impact the economy

Corporates have the great opportunity to create a positive impact on the local economy, and therefore, help to make Britain great through growth by creating innovative CSR activities which have sustainability and innovation embedded in them!

If more corporates developed CSR strategies, with a sense of Intrapreneurship ie staff thinking differently connected to social need, then their input of knowledge, expertise, and finances can be channeled to create innovative thinking, in the areas that have an adverse effect on the economy and help to release the potential that is often guarded by deprivation.

For example: In June 2013, we were approached by Harvey Nichols to help them use their luxury brand through CSR, to access entrepreneurial talent, in ways that meet a social need and help drive local economies.

We selected 25 young entrepreneurs aged 16 -30, with businesses in Music, Food, Fashion, Beauty, Art / Design to work on this challenge.

In ONE DAY, these entrepreneurs designed and pitched their ideas to Harvey Nichols senior management, buyers and Head of Finance. Harvey Nichols then chose SIX MONTHS WORTH of business activities across the six areas based on a one of activities for each ie One month of Music activities, one month of fashion etc.

The value of this was XXXXXX and would have cost them a bomb otherwise!

Simple idea, simple execution, simple results borne out of one leading UK luxury brand, thinking and operating outside the box and tapping into both internal and external business talent.

What would happen if EVERY BUSINESS with a CSR Budget decided to thinking differently about the social value of each pound they spent?

Painting a school fence, or simply volunteering is admirable but is simply not enough in modern society!

Joel Blake AGP, Cultiv8 Solutions | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 18:36

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Skills & Training

Votes: 7 Dislikes: 0

SME Apprenticeships Scheme

Introduce an apprentice scheme ( on the model of Germany ) to get young people who can't make it to university to get trained and grow their skills within small /medium size enterprises. In returns company would  get financial support and tax relief for doing this .

Cecile Reinaud, Seraphine | Wed 20th Nov 2013 at 17:55

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Skills & Training

Votes: 8 Dislikes: 2

Entrepreneur's Academy

Create a national entrepreneur's academy that invites business owners to training session on key skills such as people management, leadership , growth strategy , strategic planning, intellectual property and also offers these trainings online via video tutorials . This could also be a platform for networking and mentoring 

Cecile Reinaud, Seraphine | Wed 20th Nov 2013 at 17:47

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Hi Cecile - this already exists (although it's still growing and the training is being added to all the time) the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs was established in 2010 and now has over 20,000 members -
Nathan Hardwick, SFEDI Group | Wed 27th Nov 2013 at 08:21

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Skills & Training

Votes: 9 Dislikes: 0

Increase Funding for Skills Training

Funding for skills training should not be solely linked to official government NVQ etc schemes but there should be more available for companies like us, who are endeavouring to keep traditional skills going through the generations by training ourselves, and cannot use local colleges etc as there is no course match. Information on funding available of all types needs to be much more easily available – the majority of SME’s simply do not have the time to go hunting for the information
Jan Cavelle, The Jan Cavelle Furniture Co | Wed 20th Nov 2013 at 14:24

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This is crucial. We outsource our manufacturing to a superb British manufacturer who started her own production unit this year after a lifetime in the industry - full of experience, skills & contacts. The problem? She can't find the skilled staff so is training people up at her own expense & funding this out of her own savings. Between us, we are generating employment in the UK, bringing back skills which were lost when clothing manufacturing went overseas & we have been selling internationally from the start. It beggars belief that her business - and then ours - will be at risk for lack of funding for skills training.
Sally Guyer, The Cambridge Raincoat Company | Fri 6th Dec 2013 at 05:50

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Skills & Training

Votes: 12 Dislikes: 1

Government Backed Training

If the government wants more efficient companies then more training should happen at school.
Emma Packe, Prelude Group | Mon 18th Nov 2013 at 17:50

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Although Training is essential for companies to run smoothly and efficiently.
Training young people in school will be costly and potentially a waste of money.

Training is good but you only have to look at the premiership football league to see that the best training does not insure success, or mean any person or team will be better equipped to work efficiently when it matters.

There are currently around 1 million young people out of work who have GCSEs NVQs, degrees, and various training certificates. All of which will ever be helpful or beneficial to a business or the individual.

We do need to better equip our students for the future Britain.
We must change our education system to bring it up to date, and by doing more with and listening to our students.

We need provide them with real experience and opportunities to engage with businesses and there surrounding communities.

Training and education clash and students need more inspiration than theoretical knowledge or training.
Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Wed 4th Dec 2013 at 17:12

Hi Terence,
You say "We do need to better equip our students for the future Britain.
We must change our education system to bring it up to date, and by doing more with and listening to our students. We need to provide them with real experience and opportunities to engage with businesses and their surrounding communities."

I interpreted Emma's comments to mean exactly this. Academia doesn't suit all students - schools & 6th form colleges could be linked to precisely the practical opportunities you describe. When my children were at school & about to do work experience, they had good ideas of their own on how & where to get the work experience which I was willing to organise. In both cases, we were thwarted by the schools insisting on controlling & dictating what the work experience would be. The result? My kids lost interest. Furthermore, their contemporaries were in ridiculous placements where some of them were finishing by 3pm or earlier daily. The 'Work Experience' was a meaningless farce for the majority.

Sally Guyer, The Cambridge Raincoat Company | Fri 6th Dec 2013 at 05:59

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Skills & Training

Votes: 8 Dislikes: 4

Online courses target global skills gap

The Alison project - Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online - has already signed up more than two million students to more than 500 online courses. It's adding another 200,000 each month and founder Mike Feerick is confident this expansion could accelerate even more rapidly and reach a billion students towards the end of the decade.
Brian Jackson, Lodge Farm Dairy | Fri 8th Nov 2013 at 08:52

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With tuition fees peaking at around £27k PER SEMESTER (supposedly by 2019) I have to say, I wouldn't even think of going to University. That's one expensive piece of paper! With online learning so available (I'm a fan of UDEMY, Treehouse and CodeAcademy, in particular) I really wouldn't waste the money. Seriously, for a few hundred pounds you can learn from Stanford lecturers from the comfort of your own home - and hold down a job. Much better idea! Perhaps employers will appreciate that some people choose not to lumber themselves with copious amounts of debt in order to get an entry-level job. Speaking as someone with a degree, I certainly wouldn't limit applicants to those only with a degree.
Jack Symons, Treetops BD | Fri 29th Nov 2013 at 19:27

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