Test 3 October, 2017

Raising standards: next steps for schools reform

As an employer, I am passionate about getting the right people into the right roles — for them and for my business. I am, therefore, in a very real sense, the person who decides what financial value to put on the skills of people starting their employment. At DXC, we are aiming to recruit 300 apprentices or graduates this year.

What do I need from the education system? I need a mix of skills — and a range of attributes that make them immediately valuable to my business. Of course, I need young people who can write well, who can assimilate large amounts of data and make sense of it, who are numerate and also digitally literate. And beyond those skills I need an additional layer of attributes — people who can think for themselves, who are entrepreneurial, who are keen to ask questions, who want to learn, who can solve problems and have a sense of values. Really, I need bright, curious, confident people — ideally people who have worked before, even if only in volunteer jobs.

This matters more than ever before, because of the productivity gap, because of Brexit and fundamentally because of the changing nature of work triggered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Get this right and our young people have a bright future. Get it wrong and we will have missed the opportunity of our generation. The advent of automation, the growing gig economy and the internet of things all point towards the dawn of a new society where those who succeed are those who can adapt to change, who can recognise challenges and spot opportunities and make the most of them. To flourish in this new world will take creativity, curiosity and resilience and most of all the ability to work well with people from all over the world.

Whether you run a digital business, as I do, or work in a children’s nursery, a garage or a university, those are the skills and attributes we need. We’re not seeing them in sufficient numbers or quality yet, and I’m keen to work with School Standards Minister Nick Gibb to see what we can achieve together.