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Education system failing to prepare children for employment

The national school curriculum is not teaching children vocational skills they need for employment, according to a panel of HR, business and education leaders.

Speaking at the Business Class Symposium yesterday, part of Business in the Community's Responsible Business Week, McDonald's Europe chief people officer David Fairhurst called for a closer working relationship between schools and business.

He said there should be a "high quality dialogue" between schools, industry leaders and careers advisers to ensure children learn the skills needed to succeed in business.

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Brian Lightman accused the Government of "putting the cart before the horse" in the present education policies.

"Currently we have a curriculum that doesn't work for around half of our pupils," he said. "Teachers need support to understand the link between education and business, such as apprenticeship schemes, and at the moment that just isn't there."

OFSTED FE and Skills national lead for careers guidance Karen Adriaanse said that learning needs to give children transferrable skills they can use throughout their careers.

"The employees of the future will have employee scaffolding, not employee ladders," she said. "With lots of moves between careers they will need transferrable skills that are adaptable, not just knowledge on how to pass exams."

Speaking earlier in the day, CBI director-general John Cridland called for schools to produce young people who have "academic rigour but who are rounded and grounded". 

He encouraged businesses to get involved with education, partnering with schools and supporting careers education, which he called the "Cinderella of the education system". 

Parliamentary under secretary of state for schools Lord Nash said having a "clear line of sight" into business was crucial for raising young people's career aspirations. 

"If young people can't see what they are aiming at, how can they get there?" he said. "That direct line of sight is so important."