Apprenticeships with real jobs at the end of them offer a valuable and realistic alternative to higher education.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) had a record number of applicants for university places in 2013. But, drop-out figures in the first year still stand at 7.4 per cent.
Many young people could be more suitable candidates for apprenticeship schemes rather than following the crowd.
The Scottish Government has set targets to see 30,000 young people a year enrolled in its Modern Apprenticeship programme by 2020.
However, it is up to the private sector to lead the way, to bring professionals through for the future of our industries and to ease the widespread skills gaps. Schools and business need to work together to broaden the horizons of our young people who do not fully understand the scope of roles out there, especially in niche sectors of major industries like oil and gas.
To end the culture of lost generations, we must not underestimate the power of our talented teachers. School pupils trust advice they are given in the classroom. Teachers hold a high level of influence over their career paths and business must get involved.
The oil and gas manufacturing sphere is unknown among our younger generations. If teachers inform pupils, then we should inform teachers.
In my company, we champion education. Nearly 20 per cent of our workforce are apprentices. Young people are typically enthusiastic and open to learning. They do not have preconceptions of what we do and that helps us mould them into the best oil and gas industry professionals they can be.
This is advantageous to the individuals and our business.
The skills gap issue comes up time and time again in conversation. But talk is cheap, action is required.
Scotland’s energy sector is booming and is forecast to last at least another 50 years.
To ensure we have the skilled, knowledgeable leaders of tomorrow, we must nurture the young minds of today.
• Andrew Esson is managing director of hydraulics servicing and training company Quick Hydraulics.