TED IELTS: Young People and the World of Work, Includes IELTS Essay Plan

This Ted Talk is all about the world of work and how companies should better manage the education of their staff, recruitment, and training choices. Matt makes a passionate case for the use of apprenticeships to find and retain the right people for a company. In recent years it has been seen as a lost option for many young people and instead they have opted for high education. While that may be the best option for many, some at least would find a technical career more fruitful for themselves and for their future employers.

This ties in well with the IELTS question of competition for jobs amongst the old and young. With everyone living longer these days, the avenues to get work experience and qualification are changing, while the need to continue to support yourself long into retirement is still needed.

Pre-video vocabulary

Slacking off
K-12 education system
the backbone of something

Comprehension questions. Please watch the video and then answer the questions below.

1. What apprenticeship did Matt do when he was 16?
2. Did he like working outside with the animals?
3. Did he go to Germany as a boy?
4. Why does he think college (university in UK English) and high school dropout rates are high?
5. He says the largest source of skilled workers is from overseas. True or false?
6. He believes international headhunting is the basis for the growth of his business. True or false?
7. Apprentices do not get into debt when signing up for practical courses?
8. He believes there are gaps in the education system. True or false?
9. How many additional skilled workers does the economy need?
10. What state should they look to for inspiration for educational development?


Video discussion answers
1. He was a farmer.
2. Yes, he loved his job.
3. He is from Germany.
4. Not all students are suited to higher education and sometimes because of boredom.
5. He says skilled workers come from middle school and high school (3:40)
6. False, he believes apprentices are the basis (7:20)
7. True.
8. True.
9. 740,000
10. Washington State.


IELTS Style Listening Task: Gap Fill Activity

Start listening from 2:21
Apprenticeships are the backbone of the middle class in many countries, but here in America, their value is totally _[1]__________________, and that’s a shame.

We need to transform our K-12 education system so it does not automatically push our children into the academic _[2]__________________. Not everyone has to go to college right out of high school. High school and college dropout rates are high; in many cases, because of boredom.

I believe in apprenticeship education as a solution to a number of problems in our schools, in our businesses, and _[3]______________________. We need to get our kids engaged in hands-on learning in their areas of interest, and we have to get them engaged in areas where we have a need.

Their education has to match with what’s happening out in the real world. Apprenticeships offer _[4]__________________, and not just in manufacturing. We know that the lack of truly skilled workers is critical in many industries, and this has escalated over the last decade.

We need to _[5]__________________ of skilled workers. Our largest source is our middle and high schools. But there’s a problem: our K-12 education system is currently heavily geared towards higher education. It does not prepare our kids for success in the industry. I run a small company in Everett, Washington.

We have 30 employees and manufacture a _[6]__________________ parts. I was hired without a plastics engineering degree because my boss knew I would learn everything necessary _[7]__________________from my co-workers and mentors. My current employees also have learned on the job, and they have very valuable skills and are extremely _[8]__________________. But none of them needs a college degree.

Ever since I was hired 17 years ago, finding qualified employees has been _[9]__________________. Three years ago, I was in desperate need to find a new mold maker. My principal mold maker was about to retire and I had to find a successor. So I advertised locally, then nationally, and finally, hired a headhunter, _[10]__________________.

I talked to our local community colleges, but they couldn’t help me either. So my only solution was to start an in-house training program and to find an apprentice. So I called the Department of Labor and Industries which oversees all apprenticeships in our state, and they referred me to AJAC. AJAC stands for Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.

Let me tell you more about AJAC. AJAC is a statewide nonprofit organization which brings to the table employees, employers, educators, and the Department of Labor and Industry. So far, AJAC has developed six advanced manufacturing apprenticeship programs. Our state has about 200 registered apprenticeships. That’s not very many, considering the thousands of occupations we have.

Gap fill answers below

1. underestimated
2. route
3. in our economy
4. tremendous opportunities
5. find new sources
6. variety of plastic
7. on the job
8. hard to replace
9. a problem
10. without success


IELTS Writing Task 2

The question in focus for this lesson is the following:

Nowadays more and more people have to compete with young people for the same jobs.
What problems does this cause?
What are some possible solutions?

Let’s talk a little about this question and the main ideas that surround this topical subject. There has been much debate over the last 10 years on how and what children should learn in schools so that they can get the best opportunities in life. Some are arguing for more in higher education, but this has created a surplus of students and a lack of people with technical knowledge.
When we include the increased use of computers and IT in the work environment we can say that older workers are at a disadvantage. Employers will always seek to higher those with the more up to data skills than those without.
Lastly, as a result of everyone living longer, thanks to improvements in quality of life and medical care, it means that we all need to be working longer hours. The elderly are at a disadvantage because they may not be able to stay relevant in the workplace.

IELTS Essay Ideas

Bearing in mind that this is a problem and solution essay so your essay plan should be in two parts.

Problems caused by the young and old competing for jobs

• The old typically have more experience and qualifications, so the young will find it difficult to enter the workforce, and lose opportunities (like promotion) to the old
• As competition increases, the risk of unemployment rises.
• Unemployment amongst the young leads to increased risk to mental health, poverty, and crime
• Without proper financial support, the old may risk poverty in their old age when their health may prevent them from working.
• As the world’s ageing population rises, the old need to continue to work, so that they can sustain their retirement funds.
• Older workers tend to work for longer so that they avoid the boredom and tedium that retirement brings. Remaining active in employment, helps them to socialise and have a more active life.

Solutions for young people finding work and looking to enter the job marketing

• Increasing pension income and lowering the retirement age to help older workers to maintain their income, while also leaving the job market to help younger workers
• The government can enforce a maximum age limit so that the young are not forced to compete with people of all ages.
• Companies can be given quotas for the number of people under 25 and those over 55 they can employ. If this cannot be enforced, they can simply be made to publish their age demographics.
• Include the option to job share, so that the old and young can still remain in the workforce
• Older workers can be retained by a company on a reduced salary just so they can mentors and trainers for the young.



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