Members of the Lords debated how best to prepare young people for the world of work, yesterday (Thursday 4 July).
Baroness Shepherd of Northwold (Conservative), opened the debate and declared an interest as chairman of the council of the Institute of Directors and deputy chairman of the Social Mobility Commission. She focused on the government's responsibility to equip young people with the skills to succeed in a 'rapidly changing and increasingly complex labour market' and called for further efforts to widen access to university education and create more opportunities for apprenticeships.
Lord Roberts of Llandudno (Liberal Democrat), spoke about the current difficulties facing young people across Europe, especially in Greece, Spain and Italy. He highlighted moves in Germany to ensure that young people have access to experienced advisors, identifying this as 'one reason why Germany is doing better in the present recession than other countries.'
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Labour), shadow education spokesperson, spoke of stubborn levels of youth unemployment and stressed the need to urgently address the problem: 'We have a generation that is lost in depression and despondency. We are losing their energy and their skills to the economy.'
Lord Nash (Conservative), contributed on behalf of the government and outlined initiatives to increase social mobility. He also confirmed the commitment to vocational education as well as academic study: 'The package of reforms that we have instituted will mean that more young people will have access to the highest quality academic and vocational education and training.'