CBI report reveals basic skills deficit

Employers remain dissatisfied with school and college leavers’ basic skills according to a report by CBI.

Around a third of employers said that young people lacked the necessary skills for work – the same amount as a decade ago.

CBI, a business lobbying organisation, found that 42 per cent of businesses had to provide remedial training for school and college leavers.

At the launch of the report, Keith Attwood, chair of CBI’s education and skills committee and chief executive of e2v technologies, said: “The education and training of our current workforce and future recruits to our workforce is central to economic recovery. It’s their skills and their creativity that will be at the heart of the recovery process.

“Long term economic success is inexplicably linked to a nation’s standard of education and skills.”

This was supported by Rod Bristow, the president of Pearson, which sponsored the survey. He said: “Nothing is more important for the future of economic success in our country and the lives of young people than education.”
The president said that higher expectations needed to be set for literacy and numeracy, but employers were also finding insufficient life skills. Young people lacked initiative and the problem solving capabilities needed to thrive in employment.

“Even the best performing nations say that the number one issue is to better equip school leavers with the broader skills needed for working life,” he said.

The number one issue is to better equip school leavers with the broader skills needed for working life”

The education and skills survey found that of the 542 firms questioned 61 per cent said school and college leavers had not developed the self-management skills needed for work.

Mr Bristow spoke about the importance of businesses engaging with schools and colleges. Over the past year, one third of businesses increased their engagement, but the president said this was “still no way near enough”.

The report said the survey “paints an encouraging picture”, with 81 per cent of employers planning to increase or maintain levels of investment in training. The number of firms that said they were going to reduce investment, however, increased from 2011 from 8 to 19 per cent.

Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg highlighted the importance of careers guidance.

“Employers see the quality of careers advice for young people as not good enough by a remarkable balance of minus 68 per cent,” he said.

“That is neither a surprising finding to me nor one that we can afford ignore.”

“I am very worried that when government policy is moving away from an emphasis on face-to-face careers guidance that already very stark and negative figure might only get worse.”