Hark. Bring back National Service, that’s what I say.
I recall meeting the CEO of Curve a few years ago, they’re a fintech company enabling multiple bank accounts to accessed via one app.
Anyway, the CEO is Israeli by birth, we got talking, and he explained to me why Israel is a Global leader in cyber security and cryptography and also has a booming high technology startup sector.
It’s because they have National Service. Around 35% of the population do National Service, and those with an aptitude for computer science and software engineering are conscripted into the Cyber Security divisions.
Some choose to stay there once their two years eight months is served, or two years for women, and others leave and having received top class training and go on to either start their own companies or work in skilled jobs for existing ones. The National Service feeds into the highly sophisticated technology industries, and financial technology sectors, where security is also paramount, and the Defence sector.
Why do we not have this type of system here? And can we please?
I perceive a voluntary National Service would be a superb way to upskill and train young people, providing discipline, physical fitness, teamwork, and skills required for the real World of work, frequently absent from University degrees.
It would provide a workforce for the digital sectors, and any other sectors that are currently under resourced.
National Service could include first aid response, overseas aid support, disaster response, skills such as plumbing, electrical work, construction, mechanical repairs. Those on National Service could be working with elderly people, or children, or supporting flood victims in this country to rebuild their communities.
A humanitarian army of young people with skills. Compared to coming out of university with £50k of debt and a degree in social sciences, they could be paid to actually do something of value for the Nation.
And once their service is over, they will know themselves better, understand their place in society, and have been given opportunities to heal and even save lives. They’ll have confidence and self worth, and be able to start businesses, could be technology companies, equally could be a car mechanic or plumber or tree surgeon. They might have been able to travel to Africa, or Asia, and engaged with cultures far beyond their comfort zone.
They might have been to refugee camps and seen with their own eyes the globalised displacement of people. Such experiences shape people’s hearts and minds and inevitably form a more compassionate, informed, and whole individual and society.
The immediate and ongoing value of a generation trained in such a way would be Nation defining. Such a National Service might involve supporting the Police, the Prison service, the Healthcare systems, it’s a service to the Nation, and it would pay huge dividends.
It would close skills gaps, empower young people, and give them an authentic reason to be proud of themselves and their country.
It would reduce crime, and rebuild communities, it would change lives and bring the country back together after such a time of division, austerity, and discord. Bring back National Service, and make it a service, to the Nation, and everyone would benefit. Who wouldn’t vote for that?
Bird Lovegod is an independent fintech consultant