Employability skills and vocational training are essential to Britain’s 21st century curriculum, say delegates at the Association of School and Colleges Leaders’ (ASCL) annual conference held today.

“The notion that there is a simplistic binary choice between knowledge and skills is false. The dichotomy is a myth, for successful people have both. Employers understand this. They want knowledge plus a variety of skills and attributes: teamwork, dependability, honesty, persuasion, genuine literacy and numeracy.” Read a speech by ASCL president John Fairhurst.

Fairhurst’s speech concluded. “ASCL has long argued for an English Baccalaureate. Not the one just launched but a genuine baccalaureate that embraces knowledge plus skills, and which further accredits the whole range of school and community involvement. The current E-Bac is not a qualification, it is a performance indicator.”

Katja Hall, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) discussed with Fresh Business Thinking the proposed reforms:

“Every school or college leaver needs the right skills, knowledge and attitude for success in today’s competitive workplace.

“But currently employers find that too many young people lack employability skills such as customer awareness, self-management and problem solving.

“Recent school reform has failed to place enough emphasis on these skills. That’s why the CBI fully welcomes the Association of School and College Leaders’ call for the Government to support the development of employability skills in the curriculum.

“Businesses are committed to working with schools and colleges to ensure that all young people are able to develop essential employability skills for their careers, by providing work experience placements, and by visiting schools and colleges to support teaching and learning.”