Why do we obsess about fulfilling the potential of young people?
Clearly this is an important challenge – but what about the over 25s? Over 50s?
Perhaps we need a more genuine approach to developing the potential of people.
The language of ‘opportunities’ is different to the language of ‘potential’.
Potential is something innate to the individual. It is a product of nature and nurture, passion and purpose. Opportunities on the other hand are usually spotted by planners and employers and waved like carrots under the noses of the populace in a misguided hope that it will prove a sufficient incentive to precipitate change. Most times it doesn’t. Opportunities are the products of economies and markets.
Opportunities are a product of top down strategic thinking and planning. Potential is a product of personal development and can only be developed ‘responsively’. It requires that we respond to the needs, interests and ambitions of individuals.
So let’s develop person centred services designed to facilitate self-belief in potential, possibility and the recognition and selection of options – some of which might include the planners and employers ‘opportunities’.
I was working in an FE college yesterday where there was a focus on ’employer engagement’. Now the last time I looked at the Leeds economy ’employers’ (especially those who would ‘engage’ with FE) were busy reducing employment – not creating it. So how about we spend more time and money on engaging passionate individuals who want to do something with their lives, in pursuit of their own agendas, rather than on the agenda of employers, QCA and LSC.
It might just work….