Half of organisations feel the economy would be productive and resilient if the education system was better tailored to employers’ needs, according to a survey that finds employers think young people are under-prepared for the world of work.
Research by PwC and The Times Education Commission found 89% of employers felt it was important for young people to be assessed on more than just academic skills.
PwC chairman Kevin Ellis told The Times: “Basic numeracy and literacy should be a given. We also need other skills that stand the test of time, such as empathy, resilience and agility. You can’t predict all the jobs that will exist in the future but you can predict the mindset needed to adapt and be ready.”
Thirty-five per cent said their workforce had a shortage of core skills in reading, writing and numeracy and a similar percentage envisioned seeing literacy shortages in the next year. Forty-one per cent expect to have shortages in the skills needed to transition to a net-zero economy.
Personal skills such as time management and problem solving were lacking in 39% of organisations, and leadership, networking and communication were in short supply in 33%.
Forty per cent felt they would struggle to source employees with creative and entrepreneurship skills in the next year.
Three-quarters of the organisations surveyed had their own arrangements in place to assess young people’s skills, as well as assessing candidates’ academic qualifications.
Seventeen per cent use only their own methods and discount candidates’ academic qualifications entirely. Of these, 38% said this helped them hire staff from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Ellis said: “Exams have their place but they can be unduly influenced by someone’s background and the opportunities given to them. They’re not the best measure of potential. Employers will miss out on talent if they measure it through one lens alone.”
The government hopes the new Future Skills Unit will contribute to a more employer-led skills system. Initiatives include employer-designed apprenticeship standards and T levels, alongside the lifelong loan guarantee, upcoming lifelong loan entitlement and local skills improvement plans.