BCC in Careers Week talent development push

03 March 2015 -


Embedding business in education is vital for boosting the long-term prospects of young people, says industry group

Jermaine Haughton

Westminster and the devolved governments must put greater effort into preparing young people for work, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). In the early stages of National Careers Week (2 to 8 March), the organisation has unveiled a series of proposals that it thinks would put the UK in a stronger position to develop the potential of the young, at a time when the demands of education are increasingly encroaching on schoolchildren's ability to pick up work experience.

In the BCC’s view, developing the life skills that pupils need for employability and workplace success should be treated with the same priority as exams. With that in mind, it has called for:

1. “Business governors” to be present in every school to increase industry engagement throughout education

2. A guaranteed, universal “experience of work” in all schools across the country to boost students’ job prospects

3. The introduction of business and enterprise modules to further and higher education, ensuring that students can build up their knowledge of business during academic and vocational studies

According to the BCC, adopting those measures would have a profoundly positive effect on the economy. “The UK will significantly improve its employment and skills infrastructure by 2020,” it said, “contributing to our aspiration to achieve the lowest rate of youth unemployment in Europe, and a workforce with skills that rank in the Top 10 of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.”

Minister of state for employment Esther McVey MP explained in a BCC blog for National Careers Week that cooperation between businesses, schools and the local community are at the heart of improving the prospects of young workers. “Local Chambers [ie, BCC branches] have an indispensable role in building local partnerships between schools, businesses and jobcentres that will help pupils understand what employers are looking for as they prepare to move into the adult world. Their role has become even more important in recent years as figures reveal that since the 1990s, 50% fewer young children are doing the so-called ‘Saturday job’.”

She added: “One way is through the offer of work experience, and I’m glad to say more than a quarter of a million young people have taken part in employer-led placements or work experience through Jobcentre Plus since January 2011. Another example of this is businesses engaging with local schools, providing pupils with mentoring, [providing] help with CV writing as well as opportunities to gain work experience. Partnerships also play a key role in creating the right environment for both businesses and young people to flourish.”

In the recent Chartered Management Institute (CMI) report Future Forecast: Priorities and Expectations for 2015, published in December, managers said they were having difficulties with hiring the right people they need, with 39% reporting they don’t have the correct personnel to achieve their organisations’ goals – up from 35% in 2013.

Bosses also expressed problems with recruiting the talent they require: 72% said it was quite or very difficult, compared to 66% the previous year. An especially tricky task was locating people with the right management and leadership skills, with 75% saying it had proven hard to find candidates with the necessary experience and abilities.

Ironically, though, CMI also found that while bosses are running into those hiring hurdles, they are not putting enough emphasis on developing the next generation of leaders. “In light of these recruitment issues,” said the report, “it’s striking that supporting the next generation of managers and leaders ranks comparatively low on the agenda for many organisations: less than a third (30%) of managers say it’s an organisational priority.”

It added: “Previous research has shown that the UK needs as many as one million new managers by 2020, but while supporting the next generation remains low on employers’ agendas, recruitment difficulties can only continue.”

Download the full CMI report.

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