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CBI and school leaders call for new national curriculum incorporating employment skills

Employers and school and college leaders broadly agree on the core ingredients needed in a 21st century curriculum incorporating employability skills.

Speaking at the Association of School and Colleges Leaders' Annual Conference, on Friday, president of the association John Fairhurst said: "The notion that there is a simplistic binary choice between knowledge and skills is false. The dichotomy is a myth, for successful people have both. Employers understand this. They want knowledge plus a variety of skills and attributes: teamwork, dependability, honesty, persuasion, genuine literacy and numeracy." delegates at the Association of School and

ASCL is calling for the Government to promote a broad and balanced curriculum for 14-19 year olds, which incorporates a wide range of knowledge, skills, understanding and experiences.

ASCL strongly agrees all students need a proper grounding in basics such as literacy and mathematics, but the curriculum must also be flexible enough to motivate young people to stay in education and to allow them to develop the skills they need to become good citizens and productive employees.

Fairhurst added: "There is more agreement between schools and colleges and business leaders than either party appears to recognise.

ASCL and the CBI are not only talking, but agreeing that the bottom line is not test scores but what young people really know and can do when they leave us. However the system is set up to generate the outcomes we have and, therefore, the frustrations all of us feel. So it is the system that needs to change."

"We do not need a new prescription of knowledge. We need a radical rethink of assessment, league tables and accountability procedures. The system as it is now impinges destructively upon the curriculum and innovative, inspirational pedagogy, and unless the system changes it will continue to do so, whatever curriculum is in place."

"ASCL has long argued for an English Baccalaureate. Not the one just launched but a genuine baccalaureate that embraces knowledge plus skills, and which further accredits the whole range of school and community involvement. The current E-Bac is not a qualification, it is a performance indicator."

Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, added: "Every school or college leaver needs the right skills, knowledge and attitude for success in today's competitive workplace. "But currently employers find that too many young people lack employability skills such as customer awareness, self-management and problem solving. "Recent school reform has failed to place enough emphasis on these skills. That's why the CBI fully welcomes the Association of School and College Leaders' call for the Government to support the development of employability skills in the curriculum. "Businesses are committed to working with schools and colleges to ensure that all young people are able to develop essential employability skills for their careers, by providing work experience placements, and by visiting schools and colleges to support teaching and learning."

The announcement comes following the news more than two million young people ages 16-19 could lose out on valuable careers advice while the government overhauls the national careers advice service, at a time when young people's unemployment is reaching record highs, according to ASCL and Unison.

ASCL annual conference, general secretary Brian Lightman, added: "To find your way into a career as a young person is a daunting task for which access to high-quality, impartial information advice and guidance is an absolute prerequisite. Yet at a time when this has never been more necessary, Connexions services are being dismantled around the country and the All Age Careers Advisory Service, which is intended to replace it, is in a very early stage of development. We need to know where young people are supposed to get this advice from in the meantime. And the fact that Education Bill only proposes a requirement for pupils to have access to professional careers guidance up to the age of 16 makes no sense at all. Surely this should be extended to age 18."