We need passion just as much as literacy, businesses tell schools

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Employers are repeatedly calling for school-leavers who have “passion, discipline and an ability to learn”, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

A BCC policy document has spelt out the demands that business has for its young recruits.

It lists vital functional skills, which the BCC sees as including literacy, numeracy, digital literacy and foreign languages.

However, it also prioritises soft “employability” skills and calls upon schools to be inspected with a greater emphasis on this area.

The document states: “Employers repeatedly tell us that they also want school-leavers to demonstrate passion, discipline and an ability to learn.

“Business wants schools and colleges to develop in their students the soft ‘employability’ skills that will enable them to function within an organisation and interact with managers, colleagues, customers and suppliers.

“The remits of the education inspectorates across the UK must be changed to place a greater emphasis on schools’ efforts to develop soft ‘employability’ skills, including team-working, time-management, resilience, flexibility, problem-solving and communication skills.”

The document also calls for schools to be measured against the number of times an average pupil experiences “quality contact with a business”, such as via work experience, work tasters or employer visits. It adds that the employability of every young person must also become a “key measurement” in school accountability.

Elsewhere, the BCC joins a long list of organisations that have criticised careers guidance in schools, after it labelled provision as “inadequate”.

The government passed the duty to deliver careers guidance to schools in 2012 after cuts saw the end of the national Connexions centres. However, with none of the estimated 

£200 million in funding forthcoming, provision has been patchy. Reports by both Ofsted and the Education Select Committee, among others, have already raised strong concerns about the situation.

Now, the BCC says that careers education has to start at key stage 2 and should become a statutory part of the secondary national curriculum.

It also wants any publicly funded careers service to cater for anyone over the age of 13. Currently the National Careers Service covers mainly adults.

The BCC document states: “Inadequate careers information, advice and guidance means that few young people are able to make an informed decision based on the full range of opportunities available to them, and many focus on skills that are poorly matched to demand from employers. 

“Business has had enough of this broken system and calls for urgent reform. Careers education must include regular contact with employers.”


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