By Daniel Hunter

School teachers and parents are calling for UK employers to increase their involvement in education by playing a greater role in advising — and providing work experience for - young people.

That’s according to new independent research released by the Association of Colleges to mark Colleges Week 2012, which runs from 11-18 November 2012.

The research finds:

· 93% of school teachers and 94% of parents want pupils /their child to have more access to employers and businesses whilst in education
· 72% of parents think education should be more focused on preparing young people for employment
· 82% of parents believe work experience is essential in helping young people develop the skills needed in the work place
· 34% of parents would like their own employer to offer work experience to their child
· But 16% say their employer only offers work experience to the children of non-employees , whilst 5% say their employer only offers it to the children of senior staff members
· More than a third of parents (38%) believe it is the responsibility of the school to prepare their child for the working world. Something that nearly a quarter (23%) don’t feel is currently happening

The research also revealed a mismatch in what parents and school teachers believe employers want from young recruits. Both parents and teachers ranked work and life experience low on a list of attributes they believe most important to employers recruiting from education. However, according to data from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2), this attribute actually tops the list of qualities employers feel is most lacking in young recruits.

Joy Mercer, Association of Colleges Director of Policy, said: “In the face of continued high youth unemployment rates, it appears school teachers and parents agree with recommendations published last week that employers should play a bigger role in education. Whether it’s providing more work-experience placements, getting involved in the shaping of the curriculum or just having more presence in the classroom, employers should be working hand in hand with educators to better prepare young people for employment and improve their job prospects.”

“That’s why, this Colleges Week, we are calling on colleges, schools and employers to sign up for the Inspiring the Future service. The service aims to inspire young people by getting volunteers from all sectors and professions to go into their local state secondary schools and colleges and talk about their jobs, careers and the education routes they took.”

Valerie Todd, Director of Talent and Resources at Crossrail and Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said: “Among most UK employers, particularly smaller ones, an employee’s experience is valued above all other criteria when it comes to recruiting. However, there are declining numbers of young people who get experience of work while in education. Sectors which have traditionally employed young people are in decline, resulting in fewer opportunities for them to gain experience.

“This means that businesses which want a highly skilled workforce for the future must take a conscious decision to help young people make the move from education into work. Most companies can do at least one thing in their community to support this transition — offering apprenticeships, hosting some form of work experience or visiting schools to give talks.”

One of the main reasons behind the call for greater involvement from employers in advising young people is that both school teachers and parents admit to struggling to provide careers advice. Indeed, the research also found:

· 44% of school teachers admit to giving a pupil bad or uninformed advice in the past, whist 82% say they don’t feel they have the appropriate knowledge to advise pupils on careers

· One fifth of parents (20%) feel out of their depth advising their children about careers, and 32% say they only feel comfortable talking about jobs with which they are familiar

· Some parents readily admit their offspring are ill-prepared for work, with more than one in 10 (11%) confessing they wouldn’t even employ their own child

· Nearly one fifth (19%) of parents say they give their child the same careers advice they received from their parents, despite major changes to the UK jobs market

To help address this advice gap and as part of Colleges Week 2012, a brand new Facebook application launches today for young people. Quizl - is aimed at 14-18 year olds and aims to get them thinking about their future. The app has been developed in conjunction with careers advice experts from Babcock Lifeskills and is intended to be a first step for young people to help them understand the different choices and options available to them.

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