The Possibility Club

Life-readiness #1 – north and south

always possible CEO, Richard Freeman, thinks about the opportunity divide in the UK.

In 2016, the parliamentary constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire saw over 5,000 young people start an Apprenticeship programme. For the same period, constituency of Kensington in London – saw fewer than 200 young people start an Apprenticeship.

Both constituencies had a wide mix of ages, family income levels, thriving local employers, good transport links and Conservative MPs. Richmond has about 10,000 more people but they are far more spread out.


Is it that Yorkshire has a more industrial culture? That employers in London are more competitive and can be more picky? Language? Or expectation?

Is it ridiculous to suggest that we still, as a country, hold some pretty entrenched assumptions that young people from London will go to university, whereas if they’re from Yorkshire – they might?

 At always possible, we’re doing a lot thinking about life-readiness and the moments of truth in childhood and adolescence when an individual becomes more aware of their own potential.

Arguably, any skills can be taught – but a holistic understanding of what it is to connect with other people, to solve problems, to make luck, to self-care and to empathise – is this just lived experience?

But in the UK, this lived experience – even in a globalised, hyper-connected 2018, is still intrinsically linked to the postcode in which you are born.

The Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that life experiences are dramatically different in neighbouring wards, with concentrations of deprivation in the north east, north west, west midlands and the south west.

But the future workforce cannot be born of geographical limitation. As the government attempts to create a parity of esteem between technical and academic education they need to do much more to communicate – or to enable others to communicate – what this means fo areas that are entrenched in certain ways of thinking.

Imagine a flexible further and higher education system that is completely responsive to the both growing knowledge and design-led economies wherever you are. To equip children to make and beak things, put them back together, invent and re-invent, apply both scientific reasoning AND creative play regardless of whether you come from this, that or another tradition. I imagine, for my children, a system in which they can be stimulated by academic inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge, whilst accessing the mindset and competencies to work with other people, to negotiate, sell, fix, and design meaningful experiences. Can we do it?

My interview with Huddersfield-born Jodie McNally explores some of this, in her position as an award-winning Northern Hub Leader for the EY Foundation – whose education was in the south, but mission is in the north with marginalised girls in Manchester. There is no level playing field until policy makers and public service funders properly understand what is at stake, she says.

Where did you grow up, and do you think your life-readiness was impacted by entrenched thinking in your area. And what do you think we should do about it?

Tell me your story:

Richard Freeman is CEO of always possible

always possible

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