Lack of careers advice impacting youth employment prospects, says BCC survey

According to the British Chambers of Commerce Workforce survey Developing the Talents of the Next Generation, 57 per cent of employers cited a lack of soft skills as the main reason why young people are unprepared for work.

The BCC, which released the figures to coincide with the launch of National Careers Week, said employers were concerned about a lack of both verbal and written communication skills, resilience and team working.

It said young school and university leavers were struggling to “talk to their boss or put across their point of view” and could not work together or “gel” with colleagues.

“We often hear from businesses struggling to plug skills gaps, who express frustration that young people lack the soft skills needed to succeed in the workplace. We need to work better to create a pipeline of talent, ready to become the next generation of team players, entrepreneurs and business owners,” said Adam Marshall, executive director of the BCC. “Employers put exposure to work and life skills like team working, determination, and the ability to communicate effectively, at the top of their wish list when looking to hire. Businesses need to play their part by providing experience of work to young people that goes beyond photocopying or making cups of tea – experience that gives a meaningful insight into working life.”

The survey also revealed that 53 per cent of employers felt that there was a lack of focus on both employability and enterprise at schools and universities with 46 per cent believing that a lack of careers advice was impacting on young people’s employment prospects.

Read more form our Addressing the UK’s skills gap focus:

Marshall said the employers’ responses gave more urgency to proposals outlined in the BCC’s manifesto A Business Plan for Britain released last year.

It called on schools to focus not just on exams but employability and life skills, a business governor to be appointed at every secondary school to make pupils and teachers more aware of local needs, the promotion of enterprise modules for all higher and further education students and ‘universal’ work experience.

Marshall added: “For too long, many young people haven’t had the preparation or opportunities they need to succeed. We are determined to change the system and ensure that businesses, educators, and government shoulder the burden when it comes to preparing young people for work.”

Oliver Donovan founder and chief executive of London tech group Wozedu, which via a social network matches young peoples education and interests with employers’ job needs, believes both schools and pupils must do more to develop soft skills.

“There needs to be more emphasis on communication, commitment and an understanding of time management,” he said. “Companies are looking strongly at this so students should get more skills on board such as joining clubs, sport teams and doing Duke of Edinburgh awards.”

He also urged businesses to be more active in going into schools and universities and explaining the types of skills they need.

“There is a disconnect between students and businesses. What are they expecting of young people?” he added.

As a growing business with ten staff, Donovan encounters “very mixed quality of candidates” for its own vacant roles and work experience placements.

“We want very driven, ambitious people who want to learn. We want them to have an understanding of what we do and what their role would be. We want them to be outgoing and confident,” Donovan explained. “This is something we are emphasizing to them.”

Image: Shutterstock

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