From education to employment

Employability skills: The most pressing issue in education?

The 9th Annual CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey was released recently. This is an opportunity for 500 organisations, collectively employing 3.2 million people, to have their say on the key issues affecting skills education and the wider themes of youth employability.

Once again, employers confirmed that by far the most important factor they weigh up when recruiting young people is their attitude to work. Almost nine-in-ten employers (89%) rate this as one of their three most important considerations. This is in stark contrast to the 29% that include academic results in their top three considerations.

Worryingly, employers voice concerns on a range of young people’s skills:

  • 69% are unsatisfied with school/ college leavers’ business and customer service skills
  • 56% are unsatisfied with school/ college leavers’ work experience
  • 50% are unsatisfied with school/ college leavers’ communication skills
  • 48% are unsatisfied with school/ college leavers’ self-management/ resilience

With this in mind, the report’s authors argue that our education system incentivises wrongly a focus on academic outcomes at the expense of wider personal development. They suggest Ofsted’s recent focus on this theme is a good start, but much more needs to be done.

This all confirms our experience from working with over 500 schools and colleges. As the creators of the first and most popular employability skills platform – Navigate – we are excited about the rising prominence of employability education. However, we recognise that there is still much work to do if we are to ensure every young person leaves education with the skills needed to survive and thrive in the workplace.

So, the picture remains mixed but the message is clear: the development of world class employability programmes is absolutely essential to the future success of our young people and that of the UK economy. This message needs to be shared far and wide to ensure policy-makers, education leaders and employers give employability skills education the prominence (and resource) it deserves.

If you’d like to find out more about Navigate, the most comprehensive employability skills and work experience platform, then do get in touch: [email protected]

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