Nearly three-quarters of new employees ‘lack relevant work experience’

Survey from Pearson and CBI shows that employers’ recruitment woes are mirrored by those they are hiring

Nearly three-quarters of new employees ‘lack relevant work experience’

Earlier this month, national business and enterprise charity Young Enterprise revealed that 70% of senior managers in the UK have difficulty finding quality applicants for entry-level jobs. You may remember us writing about it – it was, after all, quite a worrisome statistic, shedding light on some of the more gaping holes in the UK’s education system. Indeed, 92% of respondents to Young Enterprise’s survey said it was imperative that some sort of enterprise education be taught in Britain’s schools, alongside other national curriculum subjects, to gear the younger generation for the world of business. 

Of course, it would be helpful to know whether such thoughts were shared by our next generation of would-be business leaders. Needless to say, they are, as new research from global learning provider Pearson and business lobbying organisation the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) demonstrates. Conducted alongside the annual CBI/Pearson business survey, it reveals that many new employees felt unprepared for the workplace, with over 70% feeling that they lacked the relevant work experience. Moreover, almost a third (31%) of new starters thought they did not have the appropriate work skills when they started their first full time role. And 40% did not feel enough time and attention was given to employability at school, university or college. 

Needless to say, these figures take on more pertinence next to the results of the CBI/Pearson survey. It found that, of the 294 employers surveyed, more than nine in ten (93%) believe businesses must play a greater role in developing the talent of young people. This would be made more achievable by ensuring that qualification design and outcomes are based around employers’ needs and industry standards, according to 80% of respondents, who ranked it as the top priority when it comes to talent development.

It comes as Pearson College, the education institution owned by Pearson, announces a new partnership with renowned management education establishment Ashridge Business School to address the gap between graduate employability and industry needs. As part of the partnership, a new range of innovative undergraduate programmes will be offered by the two institutes from 2014, in addition to the business degrees already being delivered by Pearson.

“The survey of new starters shows that there is a pressing need for higher education to link more closely to the professional world,” said Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson College.

“High academic standards are vital, and our students will study many traditional business subjects as part of their degree, but this is not enough on its own. This survey, and the wider Pearson/CBI survey, demonstrate that corporate engagement and the chance to develop a sophisticated understanding of the modern business world are also crucial. It is not a question of choosing one or the other – both are essential.”

Hopefully then, Pearson’s work with Ashridge Business School will be the beginning of something quite exciting for our budding entrepreneurs.   

Adam Pescod
Adam Pescod

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