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Candidates still lack the vocational qualifications and practical skills employers need

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Despite the current unemployment rates, UK employers are still struggling to find good candidates with the appropriate hands-on skills, research reveals.

According to a report from independent education foundation Edge, 52% of employers believe the jobs market is ‘littered' with people with academic qualifications, but 68% think there are too few candidates with vocational qualifications and practical skills.

Employers blame school education for the talent deficit, with 56% saying they believe schools place too much emphasis on academic achievement and not enough on vocational achievement.

To rectify this problem and to help ensure the jobs market is full of appropriately skilled individuals, almost two thirds (65%) of employers are willing on balance for their organisation to become involved in education in some way with 58% saying they are already engaged with a school or college.  

Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said: "There is obviously still a fundamental knowledge gap when it comes to candidates' hands-on skills and this is something that needs to be addressed by employers and also by schools. Many employers have already pledged their support, such as through the Work Inspiration campaign to improve work experience.   

"But it is essential that more companies turn their words into action and work with schools to ensure young people leave education with the work ready skills they need and, quite rightly, are demanding from candidates.

"In our fast-changing economy and era of globalisation we must make sure all young people, whether graduates or school leavers, are equipped with the practical and vocational skills businesses require."

Those employers who are engaged with schools are reaping the rewards in a multitude of ways from recruitment of employees (64%) to raising the profile of the organisation (42%), assisting with the development of existing staff (36%) and exposure to fresh ideas (29%).