School leavers' skills criticised by employers

KeyboardMany UK employers are still being forced to lay on remedial lessons for school leavers in reading, writing and maths, according to new research.

And they are not just lacking in the three Rs - nearly two thirds of business leaders are concerned that young people are not developing vital skills such as self-management at school.
The latest CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey shows that in the past year, over two in five employers (42%) have organised remedial training for at least some of the youngsters joining them from school or college.

The most common extra training for school leavers is in IT, but around a fifth of all employers are putting on classes in numeracy or literacy, with some providing extra help in more than one area.

The report, based on a survey of 542 UK firms employing around 1.6 million people, reveals that in the past five years, concerns over weaknesses in workers' basic skills have deepened.

"It is probably not so much that levels of attainment have declined as that the levels of skill needed tend to escalate with the growing complexity of the workplace," it says.

Overall, more than a third (35%) of employers are dissatisfied with school leavers' literacy skills, while 30% are unhappy with the levels of numeracy - around the same proportions as a decade ago.

Employers are even less satisfied with young people's so-called employability skills, the survey suggests. Overall, three in five (61%) believe there are weaknesses in school leavers' self-management skills, while 69% report problems in youngsters' business and customer awareness and 37% are concerned at their attitudes towards work.

The CBI said the survey findings suggest that there are pressing issues in schools that need to be addressed. The most important reason to raise school standards is the need to provide businesses with the skills they require, according to 73% of those questioned. More than half (57%) said it was important to raise standards to allow young people to live fulfilling lives, the survey adds.

It also found that many employers believe that primary schools should be focusing on the basics - reading, writing and maths, while secondary schools should prioritise developing the skills pupils will need for the world or work, as well as still working on literacy, numeracy and technology.
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