Tuesday, 2 February 2016

School leavers are under equiped for life

A Google search soon convinces you that school leavers are generally not properly prepared for the world of work. They lack the vital life skills that would ease them into the job market. 

In the late 1990s we created a programme called 'Aim High with Spillers' where we introduced 6th formers to the key life skills that would help them to succeed. We developed a two day training course from our graduate development programme. The course covered problem solving using mind maps, learning to be assertive, communicating through presentation skills and taking action to make things happen. We as trainers covered the theory session and our recently trained graduates acted as table facilitators. We ran the training in the Kingston upon Thames area for 6 to 7 years and it was a huge success.

Sadly a new HR director came in who believed contributing to your local community was to make a donation and the programme got canned.

I have always wanted to create a Release the Magic version that would be freely available to any organisation that wanted to use it to help school leavers in their communities to prepare for life at work. 

So my starting point is to understand what school leavers lack when they apply for jobs. This is what my research has shown.

This is what the Telegraph had to say.

The British economy is being put at risk because large numbers of teenagers are leaving school and college “underequipped for life”, according to the UK’s biggest business group.
Too many school leavers are entering the workplace lacking basic literacy, numeracy and communication skills, poor self-management and low levels of customer awareness, said the the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
In a damning report, it was claimed that an overemphasis on passing exams meant large numbers of teenagers were unable to function in real life, leaving companies with a shortage of decent employees.
The study – based on a survey of almost 300 businesses – also found “worrying areas of weakness” among university graduates, with one-in-seven companies criticising their use of English language and a third claiming ex-students struggle to manage their time.
Standards of basic skills are so poor that more than a quarter of companies now run their own remedial training courses in the three-Rs for young staff, it emerged.
The CBI called for a major reform of the education system to make sure young people are better prepared for the workplace. This included:
• A requirement for Ofsted inspectors to focus on the “development of character” among pupils alongside academic results, covering areas such as extra-curricular activities;
• The reintroduction of compulsory work experience placements for all 14- to 16-year-olds after the requirement was scrapped by the Coalition;
• Encouraging more school-leavers towards apprenticeships and vocational qualifications amid fears too many are being pushed on the “academic path” of A-levels and university;
• An overhaul of degree courses to introduce modules on developing students’ “work-relevant skills”.
Ministers insist they are already addressing businesses’ concerns with a raft of reforms, including increasing the number of apprenticeship places and requiring pupils to study English and maths for another two years if they fail to gain good grades in the subjects at the age of 16.
But John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “There is a crisis in UK skills right now and our incapacity to meet growing demands for higher skills is putting the long-term prospects of the UK economy at risk.
“We need a system that better reflects how well a school’s culture nurtures the behaviours and attitudes young people will need. Success should be measured by where young people go once they have left school or college, not on exam results alone.”
The study, carried out jointly with the publisher Pearson, said that “too many young people leave school underequipped for life” outside the classroom.
Almost three-quarters of businesses criticised school leavers’ “business and customer awareness”, while 61 per cent said they had poor “self-management and resilience”.
More than half cited concerns over communication skills, 50 per cent criticised a lack of problem-solving skills, 38 per cent said students struggled with basic numeracy and 36 per cent claimed “basic literacy and use of English” was a problem.
It said an “undue emphasis on GCSE grades and school league tables risks distracting attention from the need to equip every young person adequately with these capabilities”.
The study also raised similar concerns over university leavers. It said almost all businesses were satisfied with graduates’ IT skills but added: “When it comes to numeracy, powers of analysis and use of English, however, levels of satisfaction start to fall. Around one-in-seven employers reports being dissatisfied.
“These are surprisingly high figures and businesses should be able to expect a reasonable level of competence in all these areas among those completing higher education.”
The study said the skills gap was “getting worse”, with 58 per cent of firms “not confident they will have sufficient highly skilled staff available for their needs in the future”.
Almost half of companies have now been forced to organise their own remedial training to tackle weaknesses in basic numeracy, literacy and IT for adult employees, with more than a quarter running courses for school-leavers.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “This report underlines why our measures to raise standards are so desperately needed.
“We are demanding more through a tougher curriculum and world-class qualifications. We are ensuring young people who don’t have at least a C grade in GCSE English and maths – the two subjects most valued by employers – must continue studying those subjects up to the age of 18. And we are transforming vocational education, improving apprenticeships and opening dozens of University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools so that school leavers are ready for the world of work.
“Delivering the best schools and skills for young people is a critical part of our long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future.”

I know there is a real need to offer 6th form students the opportunity to grow their life skills, but through my work with schools, I know that the problem is time, with overworked teachers barely able to cover the curriculum and certainly not to the standard that they would like to achieve. However learning from the way we develop young leaders amongst new graduates there must be a way forward.

Organisations are looking for young people with the right mindset, good communication skills and the ability to work effectively with others and to get things done.

I think there is a real opportunity to adapt our leadership model and create an awesome programme for schools!

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