CBI survey shows college leavers lack literacy and numeracy skills

Too many people leaving school and college do not have the literacy and numeracy skills to thrive in the workplace, according to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pearson.

The research shows 35 per cent of employers are unhappy with the literacy skills of college leavers, with a further third dissatisfied with their numeracy skills.

The figures, according to the CBI, are “broadly unchanged” from the last time the survey was conducted in 2003.

John Cridland, director-general of CBI, said the development of high-level skills must start at school before continuing in FE.

“With the right start at school our young people can go on to have successful and fulfilling careers and have a strong base from which to learn more at college, university, or in the workplace,” he said.

“But levels of educational attainment are rising fast in many leading and emerging economies, so in the UK we must ensure that our education and skills system can continue to compete at the cutting edge.”

The CBI / Pearson Education & Skills survey, which questioned 542 organisations in the UK, found that 42 per cent of employers had provided remedial training for school and college leavers.

More than half of businesses which responded to the survey also said too many college leavers had not developed the “self-management skills” needed for the workplace.

“It’s not just about literacy and numeracy,” Rod Bristow, UK President of Pearson said.

“Employers still find that some young people lack the initiative, problem-solving and communication skills to succeed at work.”

The survey also covered the links FE colleges have with businesses, the reasons why some employers do not recruit apprentices, as well as the importance of strong science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) skills.