By Claire West

Yesterday, the government announced the findings and proposals of the Wolf Review of Vocational Education. Today it was revealed that almost three quarters (69%) of employers believe that failures in the education system are damaging the UK’s economic performance. 73% believe they are contributing to a skills crisis, according to this new research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders’ report, commissioned by CMI to launch their new Campus CMI education programme, also found that nine out of ten managers feel that young people often need training in basic skills when they enter the world of work. The situation has worsened in the last decade, with just 9% agreeing that young people leaving education today are more employable than their counterparts ten years ago. Particular areas of concern are school leavers’ management skills, indentified as poor or very poor by 77% of managers; commercial awareness, which 70% viewed as poor or very poor; and communications skills, viewed as poor or very poor by 51%.

The research also highlighted employers’ calls for change in the way these important skills are developed. Some 82% of managers agree that giving young people the skills they need at work should be the top priority for the education system. However, just 20% feel that the current system develops them to a satisfactory level. Nevertheless, employers are keen to get involved to change this situation, with over nine out of ten agreeing that employers have a duty to develop the skills of young employees. What’s more, over half believed that involving businesses in the education process would do most to improve young people’s employability.

Driven by this need for change, Campus CMI officially launched today and is working with people aged 14-21 by delivering qualifications in team leading and line management in schools and FE colleges across the UK.

The Campus CMI programme delivered 1,500 CMI qualifications in 115 schools across England during a pilot phase and will increase this to approximately 3,000 in 300 schools by the end of 2011. CMI intends to widen the programme to deliver 10,000 qualifications within 5 years.

To ensure that the qualification delivery is answering employers’ concerns, Campus CMI is led by a board of employers including Centrica, Waitrose and The National Grid. It also focuses on the practical, workplace skills — such as building work relationships or organising information — that employers want to see from young people.

Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of CMI says: “Bad management is already an issue in the UK, with only 1 in 5 managers having a professional management qualification, but we can't let this become a pattern defining future business generations. The cycle has to be broken and the only way to do so is for schools and employers to work together. This is how students will learn to lead and the UK can develop the leadership skills needed to make Britain competitive. Campus CMI will prepare young people for the working world, giving them a thirst for work and the aspirations to take their career as far as they can. It will teach them the management, leadership and workplace skills that will boost career opportunities and develop the skills we know employers want to see in new recruits.

“Ultimately, Campus CMI will lead to better employment prospects for those young people gaining qualifications; a better fit between entry-level skills and employment needs; and a stronger, better performing base of UK managers.”

Greg Evans, Director of Nuclear at Centrica says: “As an employer of school leavers and graduates alike, we recognise the important role that leadership and management skills play in their skill-set. Of course, the fundamentals such as maths and science are key for us, but behavioural skills such as determination, teamwork and a desire to learn are just as important. Campus CMI has recognised the importance of reaching young people at the point where these skills are able to be most easily developed, as well as giving them ambition and goals to strive for. Young people who demonstrate this outlook by securing management qualifications with CMI will set themselves apart from their peers at the application stage.”

Graham Stuart MP for Beverley and Holderness and Chairman of the Education Select Committee says:
“It is vitally important that we take steps to ensure our young people have the skills they need to enter the world of work. Figures show that young people face huge challenges when trying to enter the job market. We need to equip them with the management and leadership skills they need to stand out from the crowd.

“The launch of the Campus CMI programme is an important part of achieving this aim. It gives young people an opportunity to grow in these key areas, as well as a formal qualification to demonstrate their abilities. Not only will this look great on their CV, but it should also give them confidence that they have the skills that employers are looking for.”

To find out more, or to get involved, visit www.managers.org.uk/CampusCMI