Character so important to people’s life paths

Surely, holding a door open for a member of either sex is just good manners?

LESLEY KEATING: Would you dare hold a door open for a woman?

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Lots of factors have been debated over the years as to why some young people get on in life and others don’t. They include parental income, quality of teaching in schools and where they live.

However, one factor in success that we often overlook is character. Character influences an individual’s life path in various ways; it gives you the ability to believe in your abilities, to bounce back from knocks, to make the most of the opportunities that come your way and the determination to stick with things.

Unfortunately, youngsters from less deprived backgrounds can often feel that they lack the ability to succeed in life.

New research released from the Prince’s Trust shows that, upon failing an exam or being turned down for a job, young people from less well-off backgrounds are at least twice as likely to feel that they have already ‘failed at life’ than those from more privileged backgrounds.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group, of which I am chair, held a Character & Resilience summit earlier this month to discuss how to develop strength of character in young people, and called for some innovative thoughts on how to adequately prepare our young people for adulthood.

The summit heard from leading voices across the educational, charity, business and political spheres such as Camila Batmanghelidjh and the Rt Hon Alan Milburn.

To date, as a country we have focused too much on exam results and not enough on building the personal attributes needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive world.

In Hampshire, I have seen first-hand the character-building opportunities offered to students, from charity projects to the Duke of Edinburgh Award to competitive sports.

Increasing the life chances available to youngsters is key to enabling social mobility, and strong character skills will play a significant role in allowing them to make the most of these chances and succeed in life.