By Daniel Hunter

The Welsh government needs to improving the education system if the economy is to be successful, according to the CBI.

The business lobby group has warned the Welsh government that whilst many of the educational reforms underway are a step in the right direction, the school and college system is failing too many young people.

Two years on from its first report on the impact of the Welsh education system on economic growth, the CBI has published the 'Step Change' report, issuing a number of recommendations to the Welsh Assembly Government.

Amongst the recommendations made by the CBI are:

- More devolution of powers to schools and colleges

- Greater business involvement in schools, especially in careers provision

- The study of maths and English to be made compulsory until 18 for all those remaining in education

- All schools to offer separate sciences as an option for GCSE, and faster progress on implementing computing as a core subject

- A new statutory duty on education regulators in each UK nation to work more closely together to ensure qualifications in different nations are directly comparable and equally valued by young people and employers.

Emma Watkins, Director, CBI Wales said:

“Firms are clear that first and foremost they need young people with the attitudes and attributes that are essential for success - such as resilience, enthusiasm, curiosity, creativity, as well as high academic standards. In our increasingly competitive jobs market it is these qualities, combined with work readiness and work experience that will give Wales’ young talent a head start.

“Too much of a focus on narrow measures, such as international league tables, sends the wrong signal. While they can be a useful tool, the emphasis should be on outcomes for young people — with better results in such measures a side-effect of wider improvements rather than an end point themselves.

“Headteachers and school leaders are the driving force of change in schools and they must feel confident and empowered to deliver innovative and inspirational education for young people. But too often, doing the right things involves them having to turn their backs on what the system expects them to do. The system should support and incentivise the right behaviour from teachers and leaders, not discourage it.”

The CBI's recommendations follow two separate reports which criticised the negative impact the UK's schools are having on young entrepreneurs. Smith & Williamson penned an open letter to Business Secretary Vince Cable calling for a number of things aimed at boosting entrepreneurs during their schools years. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said young people lack the necessary skills to go into employment after education.


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