Basic Skills are Lacking in School Leavers

Estimates made by business leaders peg at a minimum of 40% the percentage of employers who need to give their own remedial training in English, maths and computing to new hires because teenagers have been struggling to function in their jobs. Passing examinations have been given too much emphasis by schools to the point that the mentioned and other skills were not given their due importance, the business leaders say.

Schools were not able to develop the young people’s skills in holding conversations, good work ethics and punctuality on top of producing university leavers who lack skills in the application of basic literacy and numeracy, the leaders of the business sector point out. The concern has been concretised in the sector leaders’ claim that top companies have experienced difficulties in getting enough number of job applicants who already have the basic skills.

Graduates and school leavers have poor levels of literacy, numeracy, communication and timekeeping which make many employers “disheartened and downright frustrated,” according to the British Chambers of Commerce. The youth are deprived of their right to acquire the necessary soft skills for a future career because too much focus on sitting examinations and hitting targets in compulsory education, the business leaders assert.

Recently, separate studies reveal that only a little over one third of school youth have had enough campus experiences classified as essential for future work life. Also, more than two third said that they do not have the basic skills when they first started working. On the other hand, experts are projecting that this week’s A-level exam will be the same as last year’s with students getting A or A* to be 26.6 per cent of the takers. Before the A-levels was toughened, the number was 27 per cent in 2011. This week, 300,000 young people all over England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be receiving the results of their A-level.

More guidance on careers, placement for work experience and local employer visits should be provided by schools, British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth calls on the institutions. According to him, many businesses he has spoken to all over the United Kingdom has expressed their interest in working with the youth and are willing to train them for employment. The companies are “disheartened if not downright frustrated” finding out that graduates and school leavers do not have the minimum skills required of them to be able to perform jobs.

The BCC director general asserts that “The government must stop fixating on exam results alone, and ensure that soft workplace skills are taught in our schools, or young people will continue to be left out in the cold.” The university route has been shunned by many youth who are aspiring for entry-level jobs in the biggest companies in Britain with up to 110 applicants for each slot while many BCC members have difficulty getting enough number of school leavers who have enough skills, experience and work ethic for apprenticeship vacancies.

A representative of the Department for Education says that the government is in the process of reforming the entire system and their strategy includes, among others, making it easy for employers to offer work experience by reducing bureaucracy. The education agency also has their new Traineeship programme that will ensure the work preparedness of the youth. This includes changes in college funding towards basing the fees on the amount of time students spend on work experience and raising the quality and status of Apprenticeships so that they will be on the level as same as that of academic courses.

What can you say about the timing of the response of the government to this problem? Would you rely solely on the government and schools to provide you with the opportunities to acquire the work skills?

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