Employers concerned about 'resilience' of school leavers

More than half (61%) of employers have concerns about how prepared school leavers are to start work, according to a report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pearson.

The annual CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey polled almost 300 companies on their attitudes towards school leavers and education. It found that one-third (33%) are also worried about the attitude of school leavers.

Employers want improved development to start at a young age, with 85% urging primary schools to improve the basic literacy and numeracy skills, after reporting that these were unsatisfactory among school leavers.

More than half (52%) want schools to instil a better understanding of working life among 14- to 19-year-olds. Two-thirds (66%) are willing to take on a larger role in school careers guidance to help develop these skills in young people.

CBI director general John Cridland called for politicians from all parties to effect "genuine reform on the ground".

“Businesses feel very strongly that the education system must better prepare young people for life outside the school gates, or risk wasting their talents," he said. “The journey from school towards the world of work can be daunting, so we must support schools and teachers to help develop the skills, character and attitudes students need to progress in life."

Pearson UK president Rod Bristow added that there is consensus between business, teachers and young people that more support is needed for the transition from education to work.

"The challenge now is to grasp the nettle so we bring employment and education opportunities together, to meet the urgent social and economic need of creating a more highly-skilled workforce," he said.