World ORT is deeply saddened to learn of the death of our former President, Lord Young of Graffham, at the age of 90.
Described as a ‘giant and a visionary’, Lord Young was President of the World ORT Union from 1990 to 1993 and a long-standing supporter and leader of what was then called British ORT.
He had initially supported ORT’s work in the early 1970s, becoming Chairman of British ORT in 1975 and serving in the role for seven years.
Lord Young regularly visited ORT projects, including in Israel and Paris, and became a leading voice for the role of vocational training in alleviating youth unemployment.
In key roles at World ORT he oversaw the move of the organization’s headquarters from Geneva to London in the late 1970s.
Simon Alberga, World ORT Deputy President, said: “I had the enormous privilege of knowing and working with David Young for over 26 years. He has been a treasured friend and mentor to me in business, communal and wider matters.
“I became involved in ORT in large part due to David’s guidance and his own profound ORT legacy. All of us at ORT will greatly miss his wise counsel, patronage and friendship.
“Our thoughts are with his wife Lita, daughters Karen and Judith, and all the family at this difficult time.”
Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “I had the privilege of meeting Lord Young on a number of occasions. His contribution to the ORT network was truly remarkable.
“His efforts over decades not only provided significant drive to ORT’s work, but helped revolutionize how Britain thought about vocational training, apprenticeships and skills. That legacy continues to this day. Our schools, teachers and students will forever appreciate all that he did for ORT.”
Signing an agreement beween ORT and the City and Guilds Institute of London in 1987 which
recognized ORT Robotics and Automation courses, Lord Young outlined his vision on the importance of these areas as part of a new industrial revolution.
He said he saw a clear advantage in employers and trainers working together to promote open labor.
“Vocational qualifications are the currency of the labour market,” said Lord Young. “They have a crucial role to play if we are to see the emergence of a better-trained, mobile and adaptable workforce.”
It was during his time as leader of British ORT that Lord Young made significant connections in the Conservative Party. He introduced the Education Secretary, Sir Keith Joseph, to ORT and encouraged the government to adopt the organization’s thoughts on employment and skills.
He developed a close working relationship with Margaret Thatcher and eventually served in her cabinet as Employment Secretary and then Trade and Industry Secretary between 1985 and 1989. He briefly returned to government in 2010.
A solicitor by trade, he pursued a career in property and business, becoming a captain of industry, before his entry into politics.
Lord Young was proud of his Jewish heritage and had long-supported Jewish causes. His grandfather had arrived in Britain from Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century and his father was a baker.
Mark Mishon, former ORT UK chair, said: “David Young was a giant and a visionary. More than that he was my friend and mentor for nearly 50 years and a true gentleman. Wise, witty, and always so genial.