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Sarah Thompson


In recent weeks, the exam results debacle has once again highlighted the challenges the next generation face in terms of the opportunities available to them and what they should focus on in order to have the best start in entering the world of work.

They have reminded us all that there are many routes available for passionate, dedicated and resourceful individuals who want do well and that as experienced professionals, managers and leaders, we owe it to the class of 2020 to ensure that they aren't left behind.

For many people and professions, a university degree is a must, for some young people they want to attain a higher qualification in a subject they're deeply passionate about, for others the lure of work and earning a living can't be put off and for others, they have an idea of what they want to do - but aren't quite sure what qualifications they need.

Awkward confession: I don’t have a degree.

It’s not held me back, although maybe you’re wondering if I flunked school (no) or whether I am qualified for this job (yes).

Over the years I have been lucky enough to live and work in some of the most amazing countries in the world, had the opportunity to work on behalf of major international brands and campaigns and alongside some very high profile clients.


Getting a job at 19 allowed me to travel and lead essentially a student's social life but with the considerable bonus of an income and in my case, on-the-job training gave me a full three-year advantage over my contemporaries in the workplace, who were still working on post-grads whilst I worked full-time in a marketing and PR role for a Swedish car company travelling across Europe.


There is no right or wrong way – and as a parent I will, when the time comes, try my best to steer, support and guide my children to whatever they feel, best fits their further educational needs for the workplace, however that workplace appears to be in the years to come.


The region’s future workforce needs support and encouragement now more than ever, as the world, and job market, changes rapidly - as employers we owe it to this generation to ensure that their opportunities and chosen paths aren't closed to them due to circumstances beyond their control.


In this edition of Prosper Magazine, we look at how the Black Country region is developing its people, now and for the future.


We ask what new vision is needed across the UK for further education with Walsall College, hear from one young IT apprentice training at Wolverhampton College and introduce you the new HomeServe apprenticeship academy.


There’s an exclusive interview with Mark Lomas, head of equality, diversity and inclusion at HS2, who tells us how the organisation developing the UK’s new high-speed rail network is changing the industry’s diversity and inclusion practices, we hear how accountancy firm BDO LLP are supporting the next generation of professionals and Dr Steve McCabe tells us why “people are our greatest asset”.


We delve into the subject of social mobility, which may sound more like a matter for policymakers than business people, but we discuss why social ‘immobility’, where a person’s background interferes with the realisation of their potential, can cost businesses money.


There’s news on the country’s first arrest in the West Midlands for ‘furlough fraud’, the many employees struggling to work from home with the solitude and we tell how Wolverhampton based School of Coding have pivoted their business to focus on international growth.


This month we meet more Black Country Business Heroes, encourage businesses and individuals to apply for the Black Country Business Hero Awards 2020, give top tips for entering business awards and get an update on October’s Black Country Business Festival.


Next month we explore the region’s economy, investigate access to finance and look towards a new economic world...



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Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

PR & Communications Officer

Black Country Chamber of Commerce




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