Page 2: External influences
Kent TEC has very tight Government targets to meet. In 1997, the Kent Forum for Lifetime Learning set out a Learning Strategy for Kent which includes plans for everyone from nursery education to learning for the retired. This Learning Strategy complements Kent’s economic strategy, which is designed to increase the competitiveness of Kent firms and to raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Kent which is below the average for the South East. The creation of a Learning Strategy recognises the importance of education and training in creating competitive business organisations.
Having undertaken small scale marketing activity in previous years, Kent TEC recognised, in 1997, that it needed to develop a marketing plan which included segmentation of the market. Supported by some major quantitative research, the marketing plan set out to raise the awareness, generate the interest, create the desire and stimulate action to take up a quality job and training programme.
Kent TEC creates:
- Awareness - Through above and below the line activities, including advertising and promotional activity using well-focused media which appeal to the relevant target market, coupled with the psychological value of merchandising and sponsorship.
- Interest - Generated by finding the right ‘hook’ on which to hang the message. For example, this might involve showing young people that there are real prospects in some of Kent’s new growth sectors revolving around close links with Europe, such as leisure and tourism, catering, finance and retailing.
- Desire - Once you have built up the interest of your target audience, it is important to create the desire to take hold of available opportunities. This is best done by helping young people realise that opportunities are within their grasp. Kent TEC produces information which shows examples of young people who have taken up career opportunities. Effectively the literature shows ‘what young people like you are doing’. This approach creates a ‘can do’ rather than a ‘can’t do’ approach. Once young people realise what is possible, it is much easier to stimulate desire.
- Action - When all of the above have been achieved, it is relatively easy for young people to have the conviction to take charge of their future career. As a result of creating a well-focused marketing plan, Kent TEC has been able to exceed its targets for young people starting on training programmes.
Challenges for young people
For a student leaving school, college or university, the world of work can be a challenging and difficult place. It is not easy just to ‘walk into a job’ or get an apprenticeship. An article in the Financial Times reported: “A job, even a good one, no longer spells a career - let alone a pension at the end of it – but a staging post. Everyone is on the lookout for new jobs to go to before their present one disappears.”
There is a common concern for the future of work. What is the future for school leavers? Can all of them develop the sorts of skills that will prepare them effectively for ‘employability’? The last decade has seen huge changes in the country’s labour market. Manufacturing has continued to decline. There has been a rise in the number of service industries, prompted by the spread of information technology and innovation in communication. There are more jobs for skilled workers and fewer jobs for the unskilled. The big trend is in the growth of knowledge-based jobs and jobs within the service industries.
Over time, the relationship between employers and employees in many organisations has changed. Businesses have sought to reduce their core workforces in order to maximise productivity to ensure competitiveness. The implications for careers are:
- no more jobs for life (or very few)
- a change from the paternalistic psychological contract (parent/child) relationship between employers and employees to one based on ‘reality’ (adult-adult)
- each individual needs to take control of, develop and manage their own career to enhance their employability to attain both satisfaction and enjoyment.