The director-general of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) has called for reform to Britain’s education system during a visit to Mansfield.
Speaking at a business dinner at West Nottinghamshire College, John Cridland CBE said it was time for an overhaul of the way young people are set on the path to a successful working life.
Addressing an audience of business leaders, council chiefs, educationalists and high-profile employers, he said: “How can one of the richest countries on earth, with four of the world’s top-10 universities, have 40 per cent of young people leaving the education system at the age 16 without the basic qualifications for their working life?
“Within primary schools you can make an even bigger impact.
“We all know a child aged seven will pick up a foreign language a lot quicker than a teenager aged 17 – so why do we focus on young people in the latter stages of their learning when we can influence them more in the earlier stages?
“Maybe by doing that, we will get things right for the next generation.”
The event - held in the college’s fine-dining restaurant Refined, at its Derby Road campus in Mansfield on October 15 - represented one of Mr Cridland’s final official public engagements before he steps down from the role that he has held for the last five years, in December.
College principal Dame Asha Khemka said: Dame Asha said: “We were truly honoured that John accepted our invitation to share with us his unique wisdom from the world of business.”