December 09, 2015 - Posted to Writing Tips
Schools 'failing to prepare young people for work', say business leaders
The British Chamber of Commerce has a bad report card for British preparatory schools. In a survey, the results of which were just recently released. 2/3 of British companies state that young people who graduate secondary school and enter the work force are ill-prepared for the real world of work. They are unprepared in the following ways:
- Students do not have the “soft skills” they need to get employed and then to remain employed. Such skills include the ability to communicate well during an interview, the ability to focus on assigned tasks, the ability to establish good rapport with peers and superiors, and the ability to be a good team member and to work in collaboration with others.
- Many students also lack the solid hard or vocational skills that allow them to obtain a job after graduation from secondary school.
The Blame Game
Schools claim, and rightly so, that their curricula are already so stuffed, they have scant time to add anything more to students’ school days. There is just no time to add more to an already crowded secondary program of study that is mandated by the government. They state that businesses must step up and provide this program of work preparation through apprenticeships and other vocational opportunities while students are still in school.
Business leaders want the schools to add more vocational training, as well as coursework that relates directly to successful “soft skill” development, so that students can be successful on the job.
Obviously, blaming one another does not result in a solution. And a solution must be found. The unemployment rate of secondary school graduates is three times as high as older individuals. There are some important steps that should be taken:
- Secondary school curricula could use a solid overhaul. We are still engaged in requiring students to acquire skills and knowledge that will not relate to their career futures, in the name of providing a classical education to all students. Education must be far more individualized, so that students understand their options and can select coursework that will best meet their needs. And students need to know that university is not the only option for a satisfying and productive career. By moving such students into the world of work through apprenticeships and other career exploration activities, they will be far better prepared to be successful on the job once they graduate. And they will being to learn, firsthand, those soft skills that are necessary to keep a job.
- Businesses and secondary schools need to set up partnerships. Businesses know what skills they will need over the next decade. They need to communicate this information to schools, and they need to establish a presence in schools on a regular basis, to hold classes with students who need to develop readiness for work skills.
- Vocational training programs need to be increased and enhanced, based upon projected business needs. Businesses can participate in such training too. Loaning some of their valued employees to spend time working with students in secondary schools will support their future needs and pay off in the future.
If businesses and educational institutions do not set up collaborative efforts to get students prepared for work, both will have seriously failed an entire generation – a generation that will continue to face high unemployment numbers. All of this while businesses complain that they cannot find skilled and qualified employees and school complaining that they do not have the time to spend on truly relevant real world skills. The time has come to change the face of education.