At this time of year with exam results and college/university places regularly in the news we have been asking whether we are doing enough to prepare our youngsters for the next big step into the world of employment?
Over the past three years, British companies have defied the odds by hiring far more workers throughout the recession than expected, yet the proportion of young people aged between 16 and 24 in employment has barely budged. Why is it that our young people are being left behind while Britain gets back to work? A lot of businesses want to work with young people and are happy to train and employ them. But they are often disappointed and frustrated to find school leavers and graduates do not have the skills they need to join the workforce.
Poor literacy and numeracy, coupled with behaviour and attitudes that are not appropriate for the workplace, do not meet business’ expectations. Prospective employers are turning away young people in droves. There is a widespread recognition that schools, local councils and the Government must work more closely with businesses, to change the way we get our young people ready for work. The Government has recently announced that it will keep young people in the education system until they have a basic qualification in English and maths.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the world of work, some head teachers prioritise time and money on boosting performance in exam league tables and preparation for the workplace is secondary. It takes more than three good A-level grades to prosper post-education and both the Government and Ofsted could usefully include employability skills as well as exam results in its assessments.
Careers education delivered by business people should be part of the national curriculum to help advise and educate these young people as they make the choices that will shape their lives. That means talking about the world of work before they make subject choices, not after they have been made. Getting business people into schools to provide an insight into the world of work is one way to get pupils excited. Students need to understand what opportunities are available to them and learn about the private sector which is, after all, the source of 90% of new jobs. Business can’t just leave it to teachers to instill enterprise in their pupils, especially as so many lack current business experience. For that reason, local schools usually welcome input and involvement from local business people with open arms.
Once you instill a proper work ethic and passion for enterprise in our young people, the sky is well and truly the limit. And we may just avoid a future generation of young people who think that being a ‘celebrity’ is a career! Breaking down barriers between business and young people has to be a priority.
We run a free programme for local schools called Build and Fly Your Own Rocket. In these workshops we help young people understand how to get an interview, how to prepare for it and how to keep work once they have it.
The rest of the time we sort out HR questions and problems. If you know anyone who needs our help get in touch.
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