As an employer, I am well aware of the skills gaps so many industries are facing. Recruiting is often a challenge and finding the right people for specific roles is not easy.
For me and my business, I look for employees who are passionate, committed and able to adapt to new and changing situations. These attributes are often considered ‘softer skills’ – but are essential to all roles.
I also need new recruits to understand the needs of my company and to be familiar with a real-life working environment. The gap between school and work is huge – so we must look to see how this can be filled.
Interesting research published by the Career Colleges Trust today reveals that 14-19 year old are unaware as to what employers want to see on a CV. They assume GCSE and A-Levels are an HR Director’s priority, when in fact, employers have said they are more interested in attention to detail (spelling and grammar) work experience and evidence of real life skills.
I agree with the HR Directors, but unfortunately, we are living in a world where education is primarily about studying for and passing exams. Young people are understandably putting high value on these qualifications, with GCSEs and then A-Levels being the main focus of secondary school life.
With more practical and vocational subjects being squeezed out of the school curriculum, the focus is fiercely on academics. There is little or no room for employability skills to be taught or the all-important work experience opportunities that employers rate so highly.
Of course it is absolutely crucial for young people to have good English and maths skills, whatever sector they interested in. High quality academic teaching must always sit alongside vocational programmes, this is simply a given.
What we need though, is high quality and industry-relevent vocational and technical education. The best way to deliver this is via employer partnerships and this falls squarely with the FE sector to facilitate.
Many colleges already have excellent relationships with employers and great employability programmes. For example, students at Career Colleges don’t just follow an employer-designed curriculum, they get access to a wide range of businesses and real-life workplaces. This not only prepares them for the world of work, but ensures they can operate confidently and effectively from the minute they enter employment.
These students don’t just follow an employer-designed curriculum, they get access to a wide range of businesses and real-life workplaces. This not only prepares them for the world of work, but ensures they can operate confidently and effectively from the minute they enter employment.
These students will know the value of work experience and employability skills. They will also be far more aware of the many career options open to them within a particular industry.
Put simply, we should not be in a situation where the majority of school/college leavers and graduates do not know what skills employers are most interested in seeing. For me, today’s research highlights a gaping hole between education and employment.
The development of strong and effective college-employer partnerships is one way to help address this. Let’s mobilise and help support young people, whilst protecting the future of our businesses.
David Hughes, MD of Signature Living