A survey by the business group, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, has found eight out of 10 British school-leavers “lack essential business skills” such as numeracy, the BBC reports.
According to the 4,000 finance professionals synonyms, more than 80% of young people require “significant training” before being put to work.
Compared to last year’s figures, where 75% of school-leavers were said to need this level of help after being hired, this year has seen a significant jump in negative views of school leavers skills.
Top of the list of new recruits’ weaknesses are people skills and business skills, followed by technical skills.
However, some have questioned how much of these skills can and should be taught in schools.
Alison Arnaud, borough principal of Tower Hamlets College says her staff do all they can to prepare young people for the workplace, but that young people’s skills will always need fine tuning depending on what sector they end up working in. She said:
“We will mine for the diamond, but the cut and polish is the responsibility of the employer.”
In addition, the CIMA research finds that the ‘apparent low calibre’ of new recruits is affecting the performance of the firms surveyed.
Over 90% of those surveyed in the UK reported that their workload had increased as a result of skills shortages, with 66% agreeing it had increased the stress levels of staff and 44% that it had caused a fall in departmental performance. Noel Tagoe, executive director of CIMA education said:
“It is clear the education system is failing young people and failing business. Children spend at least 14 years being schooled, and that provides ample opportunity to equip them with the basic numeracy and literacy skills on which to base a career.
Over the years our various governments have been keen to champion new ideas in education. My concern is that in the long-term the frequency of these changes appear not to be strengthening students’ grasp of the basics.”
Tower Hamlets College principal Ms Arnaud agrees that continual change in approach to education is “part of the problem with regard to the disconnect between what employers are expecting and what students are being taught.
“Education is a steamliner, it can’t be turned around quickly. Change is not a bad thing, it can be refreshing, but it can’t be done for the sake of change,” she says.
Georgie Walters, who is 16 and works in financial services, says school left him ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of work. Commenting on his experience, he said:
“Work is very different to school, teachers spend a lot of time talking about bullying, which is important, but they need to also spend time teaching us how to handle pressure. They don’t tell you about the stresses involved in working.”