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Employment of Graduates statistics

Employment of Graduates statistics - social enterprise solution from consultant Robert Ashton

The HESA publishes its Employment of Graduates statistics - Performance Indicators for 2009/10 on Friday and I remember in May you were interested in my client Robert Ashton's views on graduate unemployment after the Association of Accounting Technicians' report warned that 55% of next year's graduates will either be unemployed or on low-skilled work six months after graduation.

Robert Ashton, who is advising Government on social enterprise and had consulted to Lord Wei in his role as Big Society tsar, believes the Government should set up a new form of National Service for unemployed graduates to tackle social issues.  I think these views are even more interesting after the Open Public Service White Paper, which was read yesterday, promised more opportunities for charities and community groups to describe or devise their own services.

Mr Ashton attended an APPG on local authorities and social enterprise at the House of Commons today (12th July) and has been invited to a roundtable discussion on social enterprise at the Cabinet Office on 18th July by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society.  In 2005 he founded the Norfolk Community Foundation and is working on projects across the UK which link communities and service-users to private and third sector partners and is the author of How to be a Social Entrepreneur (Capstone: 2010). 

Robert Ashton says:

“Students are taught to view the world objectively and to interpret often complex situations into new ideas and concepts.  These skills, together with the vigour and can-do attitude that comes with youth, are exactly what people need as they wrestle with the impact of Government funding cuts and the need for innovative new ways of delivering services.

“The government already funds the Graduate Talent Pool which links graduates with commercial internships but let’s extend the scheme and create a Big Society internship programme. This might pay the minimum wage, perhaps half paid by a local Council or NHS Trust and the balance subsidised with the benefit payments they’d get if unemployed.

“Then with the right local support, mentoring and encouragement they could form a fantastic task force, working at the very grassroots of society to make things happen.

“Two generations ago people did National Service and learned how to fight with guns. Many said it was character building. Now it’s far more appropriate to encourage young people to fight poverty, loneliness and social exclusion with their brains. This will be character building too, creating the rounded, responsible and social conscious citizens we need today.

“Big Society makes it possible for enterprising individuals to create roles for themselves in all sectors of our community.  Young, enterprising people would be an asset - why not support them with a & lsquo;Big Society Task Force’ initially funded for six months for each individual by Government?

“The costs of large numbers of graduates, heavily laden with debt, growing despondent and pessimistic would be far greater.”


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