Businesses urged to offer more work experience at key stage 4

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Three-quarters of companies believe that a lack of work experience is a key reason why young people are unprepared for the workplace, a study has shown.

However, more than half of businesses do not offer work experience, blaming cost, a lack of time or too much administration.

The findings have come from research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) involving 3,000 of its members.

The results show that 88 per cent of the companies feel young people are unprepared for the workplace, with 54 per cent also saying that university graduates are not “work-ready”.

Seventy-six per cent blamed a lack of work experience for the problem, but at the same time 52 per cent said they did not offer work experience. Reasons for this include cost and time (25 per cent), too much school administration (23 per cent), and a lack of information (22 per cent).

Furthermore, only 39 per cent of the businesses offer Apprenticeships, and almost half cited a lack of careers advice available for young people as being part of the problem.

The BCC has now called for stronger links to be formed between schools, colleges and universities and business to tackle this agenda.

Among the key skills that businesses said young people lack were those such as communication and team-working.

The work experience findings come after the government removed the legal duty on schools to deliver work experience placements at key stage 4. 

The BCC now wants to see “universal work experience” restored in all secondary schools, and has also said that schools, colleges and universities should be judged on the “employment outcomes of their pupils, rather than just exam results”.

Other recommendations include placing business governors on secondary school boards, and to increase the take up of Apprenticeships by extending the £1,500 Apprenticeship grant for employers beyond 2016. 

John Longworth, director general of the BCC, said: “Now is the time to break away from the blame game. Government and educational institutions must be more focused on equipping young people for the workplace, and in turn businesses must be more willing to give them a chance. 

“In practice, this means introducing business governance into schools, proper careers advice with direct links to business, and measuring the success of schools and universities based on the employment outcomes of pupils.”


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