The kids are not alright

The Government admitted on Tuesday that about half of the new jobs created on its watch have gone to immigrants – despite Gordon Brown’s populist tub-thumping about British jobs for British workers. But on the evidence of a new survey of potential university students, it’s no surprise that we’ve had to rely on people brought up in a totally different education system.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Improving the employability of UK graduates is a favourite cause of both political and business groups, who have all drawn attention to the need for Britain to have a more skilled workforce to compete globally. Although more students are going to university than ever before, they’re still not entering the world of work with the right skills.

According to careers charity Inspiring Futures, the problem lies in the skills development and advice they receive at school – or lack of it. In a survey of 14-18 year olds planning to go to university, the charity found that 68% wanted more careers advice at school, and just 10% felt they had time to develop work-related skills prior to university.

What’s more, a mere 3% are basing their future job plans on advice from a career advisor or teacher. That’s the same proportion as those influenced by the lives of fictional characters, which tells you all you need to know about the current standard of careers advice.

The answer, these budding scholars suggested, is more accessible and more personalised careers advice – which is where the business world comes in. Inspiring Futures wants employers to get involved by sending volunteers to schools to teach skills and offer career guidance. This will not only give them a warm glow inside, it will also help them build their brand with potential employees.

One young recruit who’s clearly learnt some employability skills is James Mitchell, a 19-year-old account executive with Cambridgeshire telemarketing company Prospect Research. He’s just won the Recognition Award, a national competition designed to reward employees who have gone way above and beyond the call of duty, so will no doubt be delighted that he went that extra mile.

Unfortunately we’re not sure a similar incentive scheme would really work in schools – getting singled out like this is a good way to earn yourself the title of teacher’s pet, and may well lead to you having your lunch money stolen…

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