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Businesses and schools "worlds apart" says BCC

Secondary schools are not preparing young people for work, according to a new survey of over 3,500 UK business and education leaders by the British Chambers of Commerce.

The BCC poll has found that two-thirds of business leaders (69%) believe that secondary schools are not effective at preparing young people for work.

The survey also revealed the mismatch between education leaders and business people when it comes to careers guidance. Eight out of ten secondary schools believe they are effective at offering careers guidance but all the businesses surveyed said careers guidance needs reform.

Business leaders identified three key actions needed to bridge the gap between the worlds of education and work:

  • Embed key skills for work in the curriculum. The top five entry-level skills that firms value most are: communication (88%), literacy (69%), numeracy (64%), computer literacy (56%) and teamwork (53%).
  • Hold lessons around recruitment and interview techniques. Most business people think schools should teach students how to conduct themselves in an interview (78%), demonstrate transferable skills (54%) and communicate lessons learned from work experience (46%).
  • Put direct contact with local businesses at the heart of careers guidance. Firms think careers advice should include workplace experiences (64%), encounters with employers and employees (62%), and link curriculum learning to careers (45%).

The BCC is calling for action from ministers and schools as well as businesses. It says more firms need to work with local schools to plug skills gaps and help young people make a successful transition from education to work.

John Longworth, BCC Director General, said: 

"Our latest research shows that businesses and schools are still worlds apart when it comes to getting young people ready for the world of work. It doesn't need to be like this. Preparing students to face potential employers should be given the same level of priority as academic achievement in schools across the UK."

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