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Is school not designed to help students prepare for employment?


It was recently announced that the Coalition government is to launch a new “traineeship” programme designed to ensure 16- to 24-year-olds are ready for the world of work. The six-month scheme, which should be in place by September this year, will focus on providing young people with the necessary job skills needed to compete for full apprenticeships and other employment opportunities. 

The 'traineeship' programme has been welcomed by business leaders across the country as employers have raised their concerns that school-leavers basic numeracy, literacy and soft skills aren't up to standard and therefore when applying for jobs, the low achieving school-leavers aren't deemed work ready.

We often hear the points of view of employers, government officials and governing bodies on these types of issues but where are the views of the school-leavers, has anyone thought to ask them why didn't they acquire those skills, what they think could of been done to help them get those skills?. Perhaps by understanding why students are failing to grasp these skills, we may be able to limit this problem in future. 

I believe the most important issue in this situation is how an individual can go through both primary and high-school education without obtaining those three basic skills. Surely the fault for not prepping these young people for the world of work lies with the school education curriculum. By setting up a new scheme focused on supporting individuals who don't have those core skills are we saying that providing individuals with skills that will get them into employment IS NOT the responsibility of schools?

Nathan Pearson - Smith

Twitter: @NathanPearsonWH

LinkedIn: Nathan Pearson - Smith

Best Practice Training & Development

4 Responses

  1. What does “Work Ready” mean?!

    Hello Nathan,

    A great article!

    We've also asked about what's going on in schools. I've posed the question in the Linkedin Group for IAG professionals that I manage, whether or not members feel, with this latest government initiative, are we not going round in circles?! The majority feel we've "been there, done that…"

    Back to schools. My colleagues and I attended a "Shropshire Business Summit" last year and ALL we heard for most of the evening from the business folk present was: "Young people are just NOT work ready!" That got us to thinking: "What is it they ACTUALLY mean by that?!"

    We did our research and the answers appeared to be backed-up by those of a recent survey.

    The survey of over 80,000 employers found that half of those recruiting young people aged 16 to 18 found them to be “poorly prepared” for work and said that “poor work ethic, punctuality, appearance and manners” were significant issues.

    The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), the government body behind the survey, said that, while many employers had a "positive experience" when hiring young people, small businesses in particular had struggled to find young people with the right attitude and skills.

    What I tend to find is, a lot of work goes into writing a CV, preparing for interviews. Important? Yes! But – HOW MANY MORE TIMES?!?!? It's obvious that more than these elements are needed.

    My colleagues and I have just produced a Work Readiness Programme that we are piloting with 100 young people in Shropshire to support their transition into Further Education, Training or Employment.

    Anyone who requires more information, or would like to find out how the pilot goes, please get in touch:

    Best wishes,


  2. Totally agree

    Hi Adrian,

    Thanks for your feedback – really appreciate it!

    I think it's a case of same old same old really, as you say there's a lot of focus on CV writing and preparing for employment but what happened to developing the skills young people will need when the ACTUALLY get the job. 

    Things like how to build relationships with colleagues and customers, working in a team and responsibilities as an employee. It's those fundamentals that really matter in the workplace and I'm sure by addressing those gaps employers would have less to complain about.

  3. shortage of tradees / apprenticeships in New Zealand

    Trade skills are in short supply in New Zealand. Our young people are not keen on gaining motor skills that involve use of real tools. Here we are trying to rebuild a whole city of Christchruch after two major earthquakes in 2011, but finding it hard to get floor level tradees. Polytechnics are asked to run targeted short courses to prepare a workforce of  7000-10000  trainees, but our teens are not keen in jobs that involves physical work such as construction, roading, ….
    Immigration laws are too striengent and selective … it is almost difficult to get tradees from developing world.
    I think attractions of the digital comforts have made people to look for " cushy soft jobs".
    High schools are not listening to me ( having compulsory pre tyrade for all year 12 in one or two trades , eg electrical, woodwork, welding/fabrications … . Trade academies were started in some schools but got diverted due to some teaching -curriculum debates.
    I have pushed hard for it, written training materials and ran PD workshops for teachers, but it then stops there. Teachers are not very keen to teach applied science and technology as compulsory subject though they recognise the need for it.
    the whole city is stad still situation for two years, the govenment has set aside money but lacks necessary workforce to start the massive rebuild work 9 which will take at least 10 -15 years to complete)
    I think we have made kids to opt out for " sexy" easy arm chair professions as these jobs do pay twice as well ( my son is a roofer and struggles to meet the needs of his young family).
    It is about time we also make trade skills 'sexy'.

  4. Thanks

    It was an awesome post to read about the schools. Every school should read this and understand about the importance of making their students get prepared for new jobs. Most of the students are with only theoretical knowledge when they are out of schools. It should be changed.

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