Young people aren't fit for work say employers

Almost half of employers say young people lack the basic life skills to cope at work

Young man using cell phone with bagel in mouth

Young people are starting work without some of the basic skills they need to get on in the workplace. It's not just that schools have failed to provide them with vital skills - they are falling short on the kinds of rudimental skills everyone needs to get through life. How can this have happened?

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The research from Central YMCA identified that schools were falling short, by failing to prioritise the vocational and IT skills that young people need in the workplace.

However, it's not just the schools: young people are letting themselves down too. The study found that 49% of employers were unimpressed with the life skills demonstrated by younger people. Their biggest gripe was inappropriate mobile phone or IT usage in the workforce - which a quarter of employers were unhappy with. It seems that younger people are unable to tear themselves away from their phones or social media in order to put in a sensible day's work.

Meanwhile, 23% said younger employees failed to grasps the basics of punctuality and timekeeping. It's difficult to imagine how anyone could have got through the formal education system without learning the basic requirement to show up on time.

Some 22% said younger employees failed to show commitment to the job too, while 20% failed to manage their money in a way that avoided impacting their work, and 15% said young people didn't understand how to listen.

The charity said this demonstrated the difference that a good apprenticeship could make to a young person, arming them with the soft skills they didn't learn in school and preparing them for the realities of a working life.


It's a truly depressing picture, and one that speaks volumes about the reasons behind the UK's appalling productivity rate. If a large chunk of the workforce can't be bothered to show up on time, or tear themselves away from the phone in order to get a day's work done, then it's no wonder we are falling behind on every international measure of productivity.

It's no wonder why so many employers are turning to automation too, in order to replace as many of these jobs as possible with machines. At least machines don't need an education in basic manners before starting the day.

Is this fair?

However, it also pays to ask whether this is a fair picture. The same study showed that over half of all employers believe young people are keen to learn and develop their skills, and more than a third said that they bring enthusiasm and passion into the workforce.

This part of the research would seem to have found an entirely different group of people - not work-shy phone addicts, but committed and passionate workers. So who is right: the half who think young people need a crash course in basic manners, or the half who think young people are just the fresh air we need in the workplace?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments?

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