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Businesses voice school leaver concerns

11 May 2011

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Many school and college leavers are lacking basic language and numeracy skills, according to a survey of businesses.

The CBI study of more than 550 employers found that almost half were not satisfied with the basic use of English, while more than a third were concerned with the basic numeracy skills in this age group.

The majority of school and college leavers also had major shortcomings in employability skills, with 69% of companies polled stating they had inadequate business and customer awareness. More than half said they had experienced weaknesses in school leavers’ self-management.

The report also expressed concerns about the quality of careers advice in schools and colleges. Only 6% of businesses said they were confident that the advice was good enough, with most firms wanting to play a bigger role in careers.

CBI Director General John Cridland said: “It’s alarming that a significant number of employers have concerns about the basic skills of school and college leavers. Companies do not expect them to produce ‘job-ready’ young people, but having a solid foundation in basic skills, such as literacy and numeracy, is fundamental for work.

“Students need better careers advice early on, so they can make informed decisions about what subjects they choose, knowing what types of jobs they could lead to.

“Employability skills are crucial to making the smooth transition from education to the workplace, but companies are finding that school leavers lack many of these essential competencies. The best way to overcome this is to embed the teaching of these skills into curriculum and course structures.”

Shortages in science, technology, engineering and maths skills were widespread, with 43% of employers currently having difficulty recruiting staff in these areas, rising to 53% who expect to have difficulty in the next year.

Copyright © Press Association 2011


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“Having recently had a young person apply for work experience if she was typical I would say yes. She wanted to do ‘summit with kids or old people’, had no idea about the role of receptionist ‘they make appointments don’t they’! Unwashed, unkempt and zero eye contact I wonder how she could have been allowed to attend like that. Do schools/parents not tell them to be clean, punctual and have an idea about what they want to do before sending them out to ask for these opportunities? Her statement was mis-spelt and looked filthy. Yet I had a more mature applicant wanting work experience while going through uni, he was clean, articulate, punctual made eye contact, and had at least an idea of what he might be asked to do. If you cannot communicate how are you going to do anything in life the girl was unemployable as far as Iwas concerned the slightly older man is a member of our receptionist bank” – Name and address withheld