Businesses and schools still worlds apart on readiness for work
A national survey of over 3,500 business and education leaders by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) published today has found that two-thirds of businesses (69%) believe that secondary schools are not effective at preparing young people for work.
The survey also found that most business people think schools should teach students how to conduct themselves in an interview (78%), and careers advice should include workplace experiences (64%).
With youth unemployment rates still stubbornly three times the overall unemployment rate, Chambers across the country are calling for action not just from ministers and schools – but also from businesses, more of whom need to work with local schools to plug skills gaps.
Commenting, James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative at Business West, said:
“This national survey sheds new light on a fundamental issue here in Bristol & the South West. Ask local businesses what their main barrier to long term growth is and more likely than not they will mention skills, and the work readiness of young people.
“The future of our economy relies on a stream of work ready talent, and it is no secret that businesses believe that schools need to do more to help young people transition into employment. However, we know this is a two way street and that we need to help and encourage more and more businesses to engage with schools.
“We won’t bridge the gap and transition between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in placements while still at school, and from quite an early age.
“A broader range of tools are being put in place for increasing the amount of placements in our region. Last month, for instance, we saw the launch of the ‘Your Future’ initiative, linking businesses with schools, colleges and training providers to improve young people’s prospects for a successful career. The South West will host four events as part of this programme, beginning in November. This builds on other collaborations between businesses and universities such as the Careers & Enterprise Company, Ablaze, Teach First, Academy Ambassadors, the Learning City Initiative, the West of England LEP and the Bristol Initiative Charitable Trust.
“Meeting the skills needs of employers is a top priority for the Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative and Business West, and we encourage businesses to get involved. We are calling on businesses to take ownership of their long term skills and to open their doors to student visits, attend careers fairs, and offer class projects. Tackling the skills gap means exposing students to workplace behaviour as early as possible, which requires business support.
“High youth unemployment and business skills gaps are a cause for national embarrassment. Unless ministers allow schools to increase their focus on preparing students for the working world and businesses step up and do more to engage, inform and inspire, we could fail an entire generation of young people. We also call upon the government to play its part by bringing back compulsory work experience for under 16s. It’s a critical step they need to take.”