As I evidenced in my previous article, we have a clear educational divide between ordinary people and our political elite in the UK. Carrying on from this, figures were released recently showing that many of the world’s top CEO’s went to top universities. This, if anything, is not surprising, but the interesting thing is that not many of them studied in the UK. Oxford, despite being a top university in the UK, came 21st in the survey, with Harvard being the most popular and several other US universities coming within the top ten.
Seeing this, despite the fact that I am glad to see those people achieving and working hard, makes me wonder: in the economic climate that we are in, do we perhaps need new and varied people within corporations to bring growth to the market? There are a great number of university graduates with very good degrees who have the talent and skills to step up to such a call. The trouble is there is a short supply of jobs, never mind top positions.
The Chief Executive Officers of Hewlett Packard and Vodaphone both went to Harvard, great, but don’t we need to start creating opportunities for “new blood” to come into business and perhaps stimulate the growth that the world economy so desperately needs? New blood means new ideas and fresh minds. With the right people given the chance, i.e. those who are hardworking and committed, there could be a real shift in the trend of every CEO coming from the top universities.
The great thing to see, despite the current shortage of jobs, is the amount of graduates and current students who start their own business at the end or during their studies. This is a great thing and I think there needs to be more help to allow young people to do so. This, in theory, could be the start of a new generation of entrepreneurs, taking their future into their own hands, no matter what university they have gone to.
On the other hand, educators have a role to play in this too in order to make it successful. If young people are to make their own opportunities and build up businesses, there needs to be elements of business studies in the curriculum to equip youngsters with the tools to go out and make a success of their ideas.
At the moment, there is the option to do Business Studies at GCSE and A-Level. However, from personal experience, places are often limited, especially at smaller centres. Despite this, with the right people guiding you, young people can run a successful business. Business mentors are a good option for people who want to know what they need to start. From qualifications to funding, it is a good idea to invest in one (excuse the pun).
The educationally elite of this country always seem to have the upper hand and it’s about time this changed. Just because you went to a specific college or university, it doesn’t mean that you automatically have the right to be a politician or CEO. It’s the work that you do at that educational institution and in your profession that matters, not the place itself.
I appreciate that some companies do allow employees the opportunity to progress up the ladder, but I think if we had more people who started their business and built it up from the ground, we would see a more innovative, motivated economy. We also need to see more young people shaping the future of these companies. This would be a good step towards tackling unemployment and the elitist culture that seems to be set in British business.
With top business positions open to those from a variety of educational backgrounds there is no doubt in my mind that we would see an economic improvement. All that needs to be done is to challenge the status quo.
Backbench Minister for Education