In his latest column for the Sevenoaks Chronicle, Michael has written about helping young people to develop skills:
Last month, unemployment in Sevenoaks fell to its lowest recorded level. Even more encouragingly, the level of youth unemployment in my constituency is now just one percent, down by over three quarters since 2010.
I am always impressed by the students I meet when I visit schools in Sevenoaks. But academic achievement is only part of the story. To maintain this employment record, our young people need to be given the chance to develop the skills and experiences that it takes to succeed.
Opportunities like National Citizen Service (NCS) are the best way to do that. NCS has already enabled more than 200,000 teenagers, like those I’ve met from Sevenoaks, to take part in adventure challenges, skills development and social action.
Research has shown that nine out of ten participants find their experience worthwhile. But it doesn’t just benefit them. Getting involved is proven to make young people more likely to volunteer, more likely to vote, and more likely to be involved in their community.
Even on a smaller scale, opportunities like this can be found everywhere.
In June I visited Supajam, an innovative project in Swanley which is successfully helping teenagers who have struggled in formal education to learn about the music industry and through it to learn basic lessons in numeracy and literacy. Instead of an uncertain future, the vast majority move into further education, employment or training when they leave.
Earlier this month I joined Westerham Sea Cadets for one of their regular boating sessions on Chipstead Lake. The Sea Cadets offer practical training in the water and the confidence-building and self-esteem that comes with it, as well as valuable courses and certificates.
These opportunities are creating a new generation of well-rounded individuals with the skills they require to succeed. But they also have huge social benefits – strengthening our communities now and into the future.