Since the furore around the grading scandal this summer, more attention is being paid now to the employability of the next generation than ever before. Whether it’s Peter Jones’ Tycoon In Schools scheme or our own Martin Reed’s Thomas Education, a massive amount of energy is now being invested in ensuring our schoolchildren leave education work-ready. And it seems these initiatives come not a moment too soon, with research from the Association of Colleges (AoC) revealing that parents and schoolteachers are struggling to give kids the advice they need to set them up for future employment.
The independent research identified that 82% of schoolteachers simply don’t feel they have the right knowledge to offer pupils careers advice, and the same proportion again have requested clearer guidance to be offered on options for post-16 students. Nearly three-fifths of teachers felt pressured to recommend their pupils stay on at their institution post-16 due to management pressure or as an attempt to keep pupil numbers up. In terms of parents, 20% felt they weren’t in a position to give their children effective advice on careers. Perhaps even more striking was the revelation that over a tenth of parents felt their children were so lacking the required skills that even they themselves wouldn’t employ them.
You could always argue that perhaps that these fears are more down to anxiety than anything else. But it does seem that there is a genuine mismatch between what teachers and parents prioritise and the needs of the business community. One incongruity identified by the AoC research was in terms of how highly work and life experience were rated. Rather surprisingly neither schools nor parents attached a great deal of importance to either; in contrast enterprises felt it was exactly these factors that a lot of candidates were lacking.
Given these factors, it’s easy to see why so many are keen to see a more mutual relationship between education and enterprise. Entrepreneurial skills and spirit have never been more important to the economic future of our country; making sure they are accessible from a young age could prove the key to building a more stable tomorrow.