Commercial Education Trust : Preparing young people for work

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Posted on 4 October 2018

Preparing young people for work

Lost in Transition, the latest report from the LCCI Commercial Education Trust (CET), is the result of year-long research which concludes that despite the efforts of successive governments, employers, and educators to improve young people’s employability, not all young people have access to the best of learning experiences. This comes at a time when they are entering a rapidly changing labour market with new business models and technologies requiring skills that were previously unknown or judged unimportant.

Competencies

The report pinpoints the growing demand and importance to businesses of problem-solving, social, personal and creative skills as well as the ability to work with data. It notes that young people are aware of the need to develop these competencies but are also conscious of where there are gaps. As one respondent to a CET survey put it: ‘It’s all about the soft skills and knowing how to communicate with others, which is always the biggest challenge’. What this group of young people also said was that challenges such as a ‘lack of business knowledge’ and ‘adjusting to the social dynamics of the workplace’ also make it tough for them. For those coming from dis advantaged backgrounds, coming to terms with the culture and practices of the workplace can be especially difficult where programmes which help learners gain insight into the business environment and realities of the world of work are patchy.

Mismatch

Whilst the report concludes that all young people will need to develop ‘career adaptability skills’ and strategies for putting their skills to work, it also does not shy away from noting that the critical role employers must play. While acknowledging that good practice certainly exists, it states that there is often a mismatch between employers’ expectations and young people’s capabilities. One of the conclusions coming from the report relates to how skills can best be developed and used: “We now need a massive shift from more … to better” – in the words of a business advisor to Lost in Transition. The report suggests where gains can be made on the basis of real case studies: in recruitment practices which enable employers to identify young people’s current ability to do particular jobs as well as their potential; in workplace cultures that helps new recruits settle, grow and use their skills and to perform to their best; and in employer collaboration with schools, colleges and universities to increase young people’s understanding of the realities of the workplace.

Support Alongside what employers can do, the unevenness of access to quality work experience also needs addressing. Support to teachers to develop their knowledge of workplace practices and career pathways is considered as a must, as is the development of a culture in education which values skills and business knowledge alongside academic learning.

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