Opinion Former Article

Businesses uncertain about the readiness of school leavers for work

Eight in 10 businesses don’t believe school leavers are ready for work and say more should be done to help prepare them for employment, according to new findings from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

With thousands of GCSE students due to get their results later this week, 59 per cent of survey respondents who already employ 16 to 17-year-olds reported that their young employees had poor literacy skills.  Numeracy was also judged to be poor by 55 per cent and 56 per cent said communication skills fell short.

Unsurprisingly, two thirds of FSB members said that improving basic literacy and numeracy skills would better prepare young people for work in a small business. And, with figures last week showing there are still a million young people without work, the FSB is concerned that young people not equipped with these skills will find it tough to compete in today’s job market.

Of the 2,774 survey respondents that employ 16 to 17-year-olds, 77 per cent also found that school leavers’ general business awareness was poor.  So extending the duty on schools to provide careers’ guidance to pupils as early as possible is key. Early careers guidance and equipping young people with skills such as CV writing, time-keeping, problem solving and team working would not only help employers, but would give young people a better understanding of potential jobs and career paths.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“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.  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 with which young people need to be equipped with to be successful in today’s tough jobs market.  We want to see schools give these skills a higher priority by embedding them in all teaching from an early stage.  All schools should be offering work experience to their pupils and engaging with local small businesses to ensure that young people are getting the work-related learning that they need.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. The FSB is the UK's leading business organisation with around 200,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the UK’s Real-Life Entrepreneurs who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk

2. The FSB surveyed members of the ‘Voice of Small Business’ Survey Panel from 12-26 June 2012 and received 2,774 responses. The study was undertaken by Research by Design on behalf of the FSB. For results go towww.fsb.org.uk/survey-panel.

Contacts

Prue Watson: 020 7592 8121 / 07825 125 695 prue.watson@fsb.org.uk 
Sara Crane: 020 7592 8113 / 07595 067068 sara.crane@fsb.org.uk

For regional FSB contacts please go to www.fsb.org.uk/regions

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