In a new survey almost 60% of businesses said they are facing a skills shortage – and a third of them are considering looking abroad for employees.
They blamed a lack of work experience, with 80% saying it is essential to prepare young people for work; for many employers it was a bigger concern than a lack of academic qualifications. They also criticised young people for failing to understand what employers are looking for, with 60% claiming that their employment expectations are too high.
However, employers are keen to tackle the problem by equipping young people with the skills they need while they’re at school. Over 70% want structured work experience to be compulsory and over half are interested in helping develop qualifications that strengthen the links between education and their business’ needs.
Chris Jones, chief executive of City & Guilds, said that the issue is not simply a lack of job opportunities: “There is a more fundamental problem with the qualifications, core skills and lack of understanding of the workplace that is preventing young people from successfully finding employment. It is clear that a step change is needed in the education system to move away from a pure focus on academia towards a curriculum that meets the needs of employers.”
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