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Businesses voice school leaver concerns


12 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

CBI

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