WMN opinion: Back-to-the-future innovation gives youngsters some hope
Your school days should be the best days of your life.
But these days they also need to be some of your most productive.
With youth unemployment higher than ever, the challenges for young people emerging from school are tougher than ever.
Last month the Prince's Trust published a report that revealed more than a fifth of youngsters in the South West believed their prospects had been "permanently damaged" by the recession.
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More than a third of the so-called "lost generation" in parts of the Westcountry have reported feeling depressed as a result of the stagnant labour market.
Since the banking crisis sparked economic turmoil in 2008, long-term youth joblessness in Devon and Cornwall has soared from 340 in 2008 to 2,850 at the end of last year.
For the region, and the UK in general, this is a major concern.
The economy is crying out for the creativity and energy that young minds can bring, but many of those minds are finding the door to employment firmly closed.
It is therefore critical that education better prepares our young people for the world they will enter as adults.
In Plymouth, a major innovation in education provision is under way, and if successful, will be a major boost for employers and young people.
The city's University Technical College will open this September dedicated to offering young people opportunities in engineering.
The catalyst for the UTC – one of five to be launched in the UK – was a desire to address Britain's dire skills shortage.
"The reality is that British industry requires two million engineers every five years and we currently produce only 125,000 – that's a big gap," UTC Plymouth principal Mary Cox told the Western Morning News.
The establishment of the UTC is a bold and innovative step for education in the Westcountry.
It also reflects some recognition that exam dominated, target-driven education does not suit all.
It is also recognition that education can be designed to deliver young people ready for the world of work, and that the modern student may need more than GCSEs, A-Levels, and a university degree.
This is also being reflected in a growing number of youngsters who are opting for apprenticeships when they reach the age of 16.
This week the Western Morning News, in partnership with colleges across the peninsula and South West Water, has launched a new campaign to encourage more employers and young people to consider apprentices and apprenticeships as an innovative and productive way of driving growth and creating energy in the economy.
If apprentices, and technical colleges, has a feeling of back to the future about them all well and good.
Both are critical parts of the new education offer, and ones that may give thousands of young people a better chance.