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Half of employers offer no work experience

Just over half (52%) of companies currently offer no work experience, despite 76% quoting a lack of experience as the primary reason young people are unprepared for employment, according to a report by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The BCC Workforce Survey is based on a poll of 2,885 British companies. It suggests 88% of business leaders think school leavers are unprepared for work – while 54% believe the same of graduates.

Despite this, only 48% offer work experience and 39% offer apprenticeships. The main reason given for not offering work experience is a lack of time and money (25%), followed by administrative burden (23%) and lack of available information (22%).

More than one-quarter (27%) of employers admit that they have not recruited one young person (aged between 16- and 24-years-old) in the past year due to fears over workplace readiness. The main concern is a lack of soft skills (57%) such as communication and teamwork.

More than half (54%) of employers say that additional funding for training would encourage them to hire more young people in the future.

BCC director general John Longworth stressed that when looking at work-readiness it’s not a case of “pointing the finger at young people” but encouraging closer collaboration between all parties.

"It is a joint responsibility between businesses, the education system and government to provide the right skills and support that young people need to make it in the world of work,” he said. “It is vital that we proactively build a pipeline of young talent who will go on to become the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“Failure to do so could damage the UK’s future growth prospects and risk a lost generation of young people.”