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School leavers are unemployable because they can’t speak properly, says business leader

Students are leaving schools and universities unable to speak properly, leaving them unemployable to the dismay of British employers

Students are leaving schools and universities unable to speak properly, leaving them unemployable to the dismay of British employers.

Businesses have called for better training, with John Longworth, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, calling for better lessons in communication skills to help young people prepare for working life.

He said that too many people “cannot speak articulately” and fail to recognise the importance of showing up for work on time.

A survey from the BCC revealed that 69 per cent of employers do not think secondary schools prepare students for work, with more than three-quarters wanting to see lessons added on how to behave in job interviews.

Nearly nine in ten firms said that they value communication skills the most.

The survey also claimed that young people do not know how to make eye contact or speak politely, with youngsters preferring to play with their mobile phone instead.

Mr Longworth told The Times: “What businesses often say is anecdotally is they will get people coming in for jobs who simply are not able to articulate at all what it is that they want to do or demonstrate that they are able to deal with customers or even with other employees.

“Communication skills are a real problem both at interview and in the workplace where students actually cannot speak articulately and don’t know how to deal with people in a polite way.

“Then there is the whole business of punctuality where they won’t turn up for work on time, and they don’t think that’s a problem.”

Research by the BCC found that business and education were ‘worlds apart’ when it comes to careers advice.

The survey of 3,200 businesses and 300 education leaders found a “mismatch” on the views of careers guidance.

All businesses said the system needed to be reformed; however four out of five secondary schools believe they are effective at offering careers advice.

Mark Boleat, policy chairman of City of London Corporation, added: “Urgent action is required to boost the skills of young people.

“Too many employers are having to fill the gaps of patchy careers advice at the recruitment stage.

“For a successful outcome, this engagement needs to happen a lot earlier. Businesses and schools need to work much more closely to raise awareness of skilled jobs and how young people can secure them.

“Pupils also need more frequent exposure to the workplace so they understand the practical and ‘real life’ application of their studies.”

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  1. But the same business leaders will gladly employ people form overseas who can barely speak English at all.
    There is a paradox somewhere…

  2. I couldn’t agree more with the mismatch in careers advice being offered by the educational system. Having left secondary less than a decade ago, I clearly remember the single week of 1 hour lessons being spent on career development.

    With the development in apprenticeship schemes and the rising cost of University fees, the population of school leavers entering work after completing the GCSE’s or A levels is likely to increase, many of which will be ill prepared for the for the working world.

    Communication skills through different mediums is something you develop throughout your working career, however being able to communicate verbally is a basic skill taught when partaking in the mandatory English Language GCSE, an ability which appear to be in decline.

    Also Alan, as a corporate recruiter I think your comment is misguided. Any person employed to work within the UK, whose national origin is outside of the EU will be subject to a labour market test. A labour market test will clearly demonstrate that there is no person within the entire EU more suited to that particular role. This is based strict guidelines and proficiency in the English is one of them.

  3. Don’t you mean ‘GCSEs’ and not ‘GCSE’s’ … :-)

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