General Election 2015: Supreme Creations' CEO Smruti Sriram wants more investment in young people

 
Smruti Sriram
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Smruti Sriram is chief executive of Supreme Creations

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Every day until the final week of the election campaign, we ask a business leader to say what policies would entice them to vote for a particular party.

SMRUTI SRIRAM: CEO, SUPREME CREATIONS

I would like to see more policies which focus on empowering young people.
These policies must help raise aspirations and ensure that young people are equipped with the right skills to compete in a global economy. We need our youngsters to be socially responsible citizens: tolerant, philanthropic and collaborative.
■ Over the past 10 years, through my work with the Wings of Hope Achievement Award (WOHAA), I have been lucky enough to meet thousands of wonderful young people. They have had an infectious appetite to learn, and their eagerness to make a difference in the world has been uplifting. 25,000 students from over 400 UK schools have managed their own projects to raise funds and awareness for underprivileged children in India and Malawi. Harry Potter Quidditch matches head-shaves, balloon launches, art exhibitions, Santa fun-runs, and rock concerts are just a few of the many impressive events that they have organised. Winning teams have been flown to teach at schools in India, and have received work experience at top employers: Edelman, Tata, BBC, ARUP, Boots and Accenture. Most of the participants are just 14 or 15 years old, but the thrill of enterprise (albeit with a social purpose) soon exposes them to important life-skills: teamwork, leadership, communication, and problem-solving.
■ Government must support programmes that not only raise the aspirations of young people but also build self-confidence. These kinds of programmes sow “the seed of giving” at an impressionable age. Government should work on bridging the gap between employers and young people. Businesses which mentor students and work on university partnerships should be given tax-breaks.
■ Apprenticeships are excellent, but we also need to ensure that we foster highly specialised skills in engineering, technology, maths, languages, diplomacy and design. Grants should be given to university students to go on global exchange programmes. We should also allow our future leaders to learn with the best brains in the world. Finally, hyperactive 24-hour connectivity to the internet has been shown to profoundly affect levels of productivity. (Work by neuroscientist Daniel Levitin is a useful starting reference.) Young people can over-consume (often useless) information online, and are simply not allowing their brains to focus – something which can be perilous during their core years of study. Images of friends partying and the latest must-have clothes or gizmos are thrust upon them. Government should work with students, parents, teachers and technology companies on ways to manage this flow. We should equip young people to manage “hectic” lifestyles, which are catalysed by technology. Perhaps we should give subsidies to yoga teachers and encourage meditation in schools. These techniques of re-calibrating the mind and body maybe ancient, but they are #amazeballs.
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