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Hot topic: Hiring school leavers

Whose responsibility is it to ensure school leavers are ready for the world of work? Do education establishments need to do better, or should HR intervene to plug skills gaps? In part one of this month's Hot Topic, Emily Milne-Home, schools recruitment manager at KPMG, argues that businesses have a vital role.

"For my own firm, school leaver recruitment is a vital ingredient as we seek to uncover and nurture the best entry-level talent for the future of our firm and the profession.

The truth is that university is not right for everyone, so it is wrong to close off potential career paths, just because someone elects to join the world of work straight from school.

In many cases the skills needed to complete project work at a school desk are just as relevant in an office.  And there is no reason to think they are not transferable. Those with work experience already under their belt can be at an advantage – whether in a related field of work or not it can make a real difference in an individual’s understanding of the dynamics of the workplace.

Of course, in some cases school leavers require more support than graduates on the transition between education and the workplace. But any new joiner needs support, no matter what their level.

It’s all too easy to blame people for not being ‘work ready’, but the onus should be on employers to help people fit in and develop the skills required to succeed in the world of work.

The fact is that businesses have a key role in working with schools and students to promote the variety of employment options available, to raise aspirations and develop employability skills. The challenge of providing quality careers guidance should be shared, not left for one group to blame the other if things go wrong.

Of course, school leavers also need to make an effort to be ‘work ready’.

But we have found many school leavers do recognise that in a competitive environment their long-term success is down to the effort they put in. If their attitude is replicated by those already in the workplace, school leavers will be ready for work and the workplace will be ready for them."

Read part two of the Hot Topic here.

Emily Milne-Home is schools recruitment manager at KPMG