Majority of school leavers up to the job

Many school leavers are well prepared for work, a new study has claimed.

The National Employer Skills Survey for England (NESS) polled almost 80,000 firms and found that two-thirds of them thought that 16-year-old recruits were up to the demands of the workplace.

The research was carried out by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

When it came to 17-year-olds, the approval rating from employers rose to 74 per cent.

Some 84 per cent of employers also expressed satisfaction with the skills and attitudes of the graduates who joined their businesses or organisations.

However, the report noted that a significant minority of school leavers did not possess the aptitude required for a day’s work.

The 29 per cent of employers who found their young recruits were poorly prepared for work more often attributed this to a lack of life experience and maturity, or to a poor attitude or personality, than to a lack of specific skills. 

Among graduates, though, as many as 44 per cent of the small number of employers who found their recruits ‘work unready’ put this down to an absence of the required skills and competencies.

The number of employers reporting difficulties in recruiting the right employees declined by a half during the recession, the survey revealed.

Although the percentage of employers who offer staff training held steady at roughly two-thirds, the proportion of the workforce receiving training fell from 63 per cent in 2007 to 56 per cent in 2009.

Chris Humphries, the chief executive of UKCES said: “This is a major, wide ranging survey and one of the most robust of its type. It provides a valuable insight into the multitude of effects that a downturn has on the labour market and the unique challenges faced by employers during the height of the recession.

“Interestingly, the messages are not all bad, particularly when it comes to employers who recruit staff straight from full-time education. Employers who actually have experience of working with young people seem to be much more positive about them than employers more generally.

“So whilst it is important to continue efforts to make school, college and university leavers as work-ready as possible, it is up to employers to leave their prejudices behind and ensure they make the most of this pool of talent. Work experience, apprenticeships and internships are an easy and relatively risk-free way of sampling the calibre of young people, and I would encourage all employers to provide these, as well as being open-minded enough to make suitable permanent positions available for young people looking for their first job.”

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