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CIPD: employers still reluctant to hire school leavers, as unemployment among the young increases

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On the eve of the GSCE results due to be published tomorrow, employers believe school leavers lack employability skills meaning they are being pushed to the back of the jobs queue, according to the CIPD.

The CIPD's Labour Market Outlook report, published yesterday, based on a survey of more than 1,000 employers shows businesses' hiring intentions for young people have fallen since Spring 2010.

Only 12% of employers plan to hire 16 year-old school-leavers in the three months to September 2011, down from 14% last year. Similarly, the number of employers planning to recruit school-leavers aged 17-18 and above has fallen to a quarter (25%) from almost a third (31%) in the same period.

The number of employers planning to take on higher education leavers under the age of 24 has dropped to 38%, compared to 47% last year. But the Government's efforts to boost the employment of apprentices appears to be working, with 37% of respondents planning to recruit apprentices compared with 24% in 2010.

When asked what skills the Government should focus on improving to encourage more employers to recruit young people, respondents identified literacy (53%) and numeracy (42%), as well as employability skills, such as good customer service skills (40%) and good communication skills (40%).

Gerwyn Davies, public policy advisor at the CIPD, said: "Youth unemployment looks set to rise further amid employer concerns about the employability of young people."

Davies also said that many CIPD members perceive UK youngsters to be lacking in the skills that many migrant workers possess. He added: "The Government therefore needs to redouble efforts to ensure the education and skills system is fit for purpose to ensure young people can find a foothold in an increasingly competitive jobs market.

"The CIPD is actively supporting a number of initiatives to try and boost the number of employers that offer work experience, apprenticeships and internships to help young people get to the first rung of the employment ladder."

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show unemployment for people aged between 16 and 24 increased by 15,000 in the three months to June 2011.