"Urgent action" needed on preparing young people for the workplace

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The government needs to take urgent action on skills provision and preparing young people for the workplace, according to two recent reports.

The Skills Commission, an independent body comprising leading figures from across the education sector, has warned that current policies are failing to meet the needs of the UK's workplace. It also said that existing government strategies were hindering, rather than helping the creation of highly skilled individuals who are ready to enter the 21st century workplace.

Among four strategic alerts, the commission stated that there was "(an) alarming policy dissonance between different central government departments". The final report of its inquiry into Skills and the Changing Structures of Work will be published later this month.

Meanwhile, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published findings from its Workforce Survey, Developing the Talents of the Next Generation. Results indicate that businesses feel school leavers are not being adequately prepared for the workplace.

John Longworth, Director General of the BCC, said: "Firms need young people that are resilient, good communicators and understand how to work as part of a team.

“We believe that successive governments have failed our young people by not properly equipping them for their future careers. Creating artificial targets, such as half of school leavers should go to university, has in the past sent the wrong signal to young people about the employment and training options open to them."

The BCC has made a number of recommendations, including universal work experience in all secondary schools, and assessing schools, colleges and universities on the employment outcomes of their pupils, rather than just exam results.