‘They all want to be Wolf of Wall Street’: E2E panel bemoans school-leaver skills

‘They all want to be Wolf of Wall Street’: E2E panel bemoans school-leaver skills

Not for the first time, you hoped – prayed – that a government minister was listening and watching an E2E Track 100 panel discussion unfold.

E2E, the business mentoring and networking organisation founded and chaired by the redoubtable Shalini Khemka CBE – it has upwards of 24,000 members – specialises in bringing together entrepreneurs, so they can share their experiences and advice. The Track 100 is the regular E2E ranking of the country’s best-performing private companies in a particular field.

This week, it was the turn of tech – after exports and female-run businesses.

On the panel were some of the brightest and best from UK tech and, as you might expect, the discussion was fast, exhilarating and to the point. With an election just days away, they were asked what the new administration could do to make their lives better.

It was telling that they chose not to rehearse the common complaints of business such as too high taxation, too much red tape. This lot had their focus firmly attuned to the future, to securing the tools for advancement and growth. They’re desperate for the new government to do more to ensure our school-leavers are equipped to enter the world of commerce.

Gavin Dein, founder and deputy chairman of Reward Insight, powering loyalty programmes for retailers and banks across the world, was forthright: “Our children are learning Victorian skills that were applicable in the First and Second World Wars, not today. They’ve no inter-communications skills, they don’t value kindness. They don’t jump up and say they’ll stay late until a problem is solved – they just clock off. They need to learn teamwork. The national curriculum needs a revamp.”

Dhava Patel, chairman and co-founder of Universal Partner, the cross-border payments solutions provider, echoed Dein, saying it was all about kindness and communication. “They turn up to our FX Academy with no communications skills at all. They all want to be Wolf of Wall Street – we have to drive that out of them. I’m not sure how the government sees it. I suspect they believe the onus is on the parents, not the government, to produce children with the right skills and attitude.”

Hayley Roberts, founder and CEO, Distology, specialising in distributing disruptive technology, said there is a skills gap. “We’re boxing in our own children in, wanting them to become doctors or accountants and get A-stars,” he said, “It’s too judgmental. The reality is that our children today, all our children, have the most opportunities ever – we need to teach them how to access those opportunities.”

As might be expected, the topic of AI was raised. All the panel said it was to be embraced, not feared. Sat Sanghera, CEO of telecoms solutions provider, IP Integration, said: “It’s a label. It used to be called automation. It’s all about automating business. It can help the sales team automate proposals to use across sales and marketing, it can help clients face and solve problems.” Critically, he added: “Technology is only as good as the technology you embed in the business.”

Hayley Roberts said she believed humans would always be required. “We will always need human interaction. That’s how we get on. Not everyone is a techie but every business is a technology business, using technology alongside people.”

Peter Yeung, CIO and global data protection officer for Optimizely, the digital experience software provider, said data protection in the context of AI was “immensely important.” Currently 11 states in the US have passed data protection laws and another 14 are following. AI can be controlled and harnessed. “AI is only as good as the data that is available.”

Franklin Asante, head of entrepreneurs at Coutts bank said there was much to be positive about. “There are plenty of investors looking for businesses to back; equally there are plenty of businesses looking for funding. There is a disconnect, as a banking partner we can bring them together.”

The session ended in a positive, upbeat mood. Dhava Patel said he was hopeful of the coming new trade deals that would have tech at the forefront and would create thousands of jobs.

Hayley Roberts said she saw tech as “solving problems and life would be boring without problems to solve.”

Source: independent.co.uk