By Daniel Hunter
Young people are not being given the necessary skills to prepare them for life in employment, according to a new report by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
The BCC surveyed 3,000 business and found that nine in ten believe school leavers are not ready for work, with key skills like communication and the ability to work well within a team the biggest issues. More than 50% of those surveyed said school leavers lacked good communications.
The report also found work experience to be a key factor in the lack of necessary skills. Around three-quarters of businesses said a lack of work experience was one of the main reasons, but crucially, more than half of firms surveyed said they didn’t offer work experience.
The BCC has called for universal work experience for all secondary schools in the UK, and the Department for Education said it was looking into ways of better connecting schools and businesses.
BCC director general John Longworth said that businesses take the view that hiring a young person is “risky”.
“Business people tend to favour more skilled and experienced applicants – and while they do sympathise, their primary function is to run a business which means making business decisions,” he said.
“Firms need young people that are resilient, good communicators and understand how to work as part of a team.
“We believe that successive governments have failed our young people by not properly equipping them for their future careers.”
He added: “Government and educational institutions must be more focused on equipping young people for the workplace and in turn businesses must be more willing to give them a chance.
“In practice, this means introducing business governance into schools, proper careers advice with direct links to business and measuring the success of schools and universities based on the employment outcomes of pupils.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “Our plan for education is designed to give every child the knowledge and skills they need to prepare them for life in modern Britain, and getting them ready for the world of work is part of this.
“We have already updated guidance for schools to encourage closer links with employers to deliver career insight talks, mentoring and work tasters in order to open pupils’ eyes to the opportunities available to them and help them to make the right choices at the right time.
“New University Technical Colleges and studio schools are also giving young people a better chance than ever of developing a specialism that will help build a rewarding career.
“But there is more to do and we are looking closely at how else we can encourage employers and schools to improve how they work together.”
The BCC’s report follows one conducted by Smith & Williamson, which claimed that young entrepreneurs are being failed by the education system in Britain.
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