School leavers ‘are not ready to go to work’

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EIGHT out of 10 companies are concerned that school leavers are not adequately prepared for the world of work, according to a poll published yesterday.

Carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) the survey suggests there are still widespread concerns among small businesses about young people’s literacy and numeracy skills.

The poll which questioned almost 3,000 companies, also reveals worries about school leavers’ self-management skills as well as their ability to work in teams and communicate.

In total, 81 per cent of the firms taking part said they were not confident that school leavers are ready for work.

More than two-thirds (69 per cent) said they rated school leavers’ literacy skills as poor or very poor, while more than half (55 per cent) said the same about their numeracy skills.

A day ahead of the publication of GCSE results this morning, none of the small businesses polled said they thought literacy and numeracy skills were excellent, while 17 per cent said they thought numeracy levels among this group were good, and 15 per cent said the same for literacy.

When it comes to workplace skills, more than half (56 per cent) thought that school leavers’ communication skills were poor or very poor, 77 per cent said the same about their business awareness and 31 per cent said the same about team working skills.

The poll also reveals that 57 per cent of small businesses think that school leavers do not have a positive attitude and are poor at self management.

It found that seven in 10 (69 per cent) of small businesses believe that schools should do more to develop young people’s employability skills, while 66 per cent think they should do more to improve basic numeracy and literacy.

“Businesses are more than ready to invest time and money training staff in job-related skills, but expect them to come with at least the basics, said FSB policy chairman Wilfred Mitchell.

“It is a concern that businesses have again highlighted numeracy, literacy and core workplace skills, such as communication, as major problems.

“These are the skills which young people need to be equipped with to be successful in today’s tough jobs market.”

It was important, he said, that schools give those skills a higher priority by embedding them in all teaching from an early stage.

“All schools should be offering work experience and careers guidance to their pupils and engaging with local small businesses to ensure that young people are getting the work-related learning that they need.”