From education to employment

Education Provides Literacy and Numeracy Skills Not Employability Skills

In a recent survey commissioned by Ofsted, independent researchers polled more than 500 workers between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. Respondents were from a variety of industries, with more than half of them holding professional qualifications related to their industry.

The emerging message was that while many believe that education provided them with good literacy and numeracy skills, it failed to adequately prepare them for the workforce. Employers were seen by most respondents as having a greater role in providing young people with the skills necessary to their job role.

1/3 of respondents believe that their education could have provided more preparation for the world of work. A quarter of those polled thought they would have befitted from more work experience while 8% thought that vocational training would have been useful.

The poll revealed that while the education system did not provide enough emphasis on key workplace skills like attention to detail, meeting deadlines, problem-solving and team-working.

Employers Should Be More Active

38% of respondents believe education alone should prepare young people for entry into the workforce, suggesting that employers should be more active in determining the skills taught in the education sector. The poll also revealed that those who stayed in the education sector until they were at least 22 felt more confident about their preparedness for the workforce than those who left school at age 16 or 17.

Ofsted’s director of Corporate Services, Robert Green, responded to these results by saying that businesses require and positive and confident employees, and programs need to be developed in order to ensure that young people have an ability and willingness to take on responsibility, a creative approach to problem solving and the ability to cope with uncertainty. In order to create these programs Green advocates a closer relationship between educationalists and employees.

Ofsted released two publications linked with this poll, the first called Work Related Learning: the Story so Far and the second, Increased Flexibility Programme at Key Stage 4. Work Related Learning is an overview of Ofsted’s evaluation of recent government initiatives aimed at making education more relevant to working life and the economy, in part to build relationships between the education sector and businesses.

Relationship Between Education And Business Is Slow

Increased Flexibility Programme at Key Stage 4 is Ofsted’s evaluation of the first two years of the programme. The assessment reveals that the courses offered through partnership with business have been far more popular than initially expected, with attendance exceeding all forecasts. Indeed, four out of five students are being awarded qualifications through these courses, with more students staying in school after age 16. Despite this success the relationship between educational institutions and businesses are slow to develop and there are some serious problems with the curriculum of the courses that have emerged as a result.


Employers were given a positive reading according to the poll, with 80% of respondents praising their employers for identifying gaps I their skills and offering strong support in providing the necessary training for job roles.

Indeed half of all respondents said that they had attended training provided by their employers, with 44% claiming that they had benefited from on-the-job training. More than half of respondents reported that they had taken it upon themselves, through self-teaching, to address any gaps in skill or knowledge required for their jobs.

Green concluded by saying that employers clearly play a larger role in education than previously thought, and we must invest businesses to ensure that we have a well-trained and confident workforce.

Nadine Monem

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