To coincide with the launch of National Careers Week, which focuses this year on ‘Life Skills’, a report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) highlights that more than half of UK employers believe a lack of soft skills hinder young people’s readiness for work.

The BCC Workforce Survey, Developing the Talents of the Next Generation, found that 57% of employers cite a lack of soft skills such as communication, resilience and team working, as the main reason why young people are unprepared for the world of work. The survey also found that a lack of focus on employability and enterprise in educational institutions (53%) and a lack of careers advice (46%) impacts on young people’s prospects in the world of work.

The BCC is proposing a number of measures* to get educators and businesses working together to help young people develop the life skills they need to succeed in the world of work. This supports the wider activity that Chambers of Commerce are already doing around the country to bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work:

  • Measuring schools on their pupils’ career destinations  - by focusing schools not just on ‘teaching to the test’, but also employability and life skills, we can help ensure young people have a smoother transition into work;
  • A guarantee of a business governor at every secondary school - making schools more aware of local business needs and helping to build healthy relationships with their local business community;
  • Promoting enterprise modules for all higher and further education students – helping students to build up knowledge of business and prepare for the world of work or entrepreneurship;
  • Universal ‘experience of work’ in all schools UK-wide to improve employment prospects – ensuring that all pupils leave school with high-quality exposure to business and the core skills needed for work.

Commenting Dr Adam Marshall, Executive Director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“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. 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.

“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.

“By measuring schools on pupil career destination, putting business governors in secondary schools and giving university and college students the option to take business and enterprise modules, we can help to give young people the best chance of building a successful career. National Careers Week is an excellent opportunity to highlight the range of careers available to people entering the workforce, and the skills that are at the top of the wish list for employers.”

 

Ends

Notes to editors:

*BCC policy recommendations on education and skills are taken from the BCC Manifesto ‘A Business Plan for Britain’, which includes a wider set of recommendations from the business community, for any incoming government in 2015.

The BCC will be running a chamber network general election campaign throughout March, with a different theme each week.  The first week (2nd – 8th March) focuses on developing the talents of the next generation. The site will go live on Monday 2nd March via this link: http://www.businessplanforbritain.co.uk/. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter  #chambermanifesto

National Careers Week: http://www.nationalcareersweek.com/

Media contacts:

Nick White – Press Officer

020 7654 5813 / 07825746812

Natasha Downes – Press Officer

020 7654 5817 / 07768458077

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) sits at the heart of a powerful network of 52 Accredited Chambers of Commerce across the UK, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes and within all sectors. For more information visit: www.britishchambers.org.uk