Are the UK’s Graduates Fit for the Workforce?

A survey of bosses shows that a growing number of British students are not graduating with adequate or basic skills to contribute to the workforce.

The survey of some of the United Kingdom’s biggest businesses found three in four bosses believe graduate skills are poor, writes the Telegraph. Some of the firms polled were HSBC, Santander, KPMG and Procter & Gamble.

The study, commissioned by the Young Enterprise charity, sparks widespread concern of the quality of potential recruits.

Researchers found that thousands of young people arrive at interviews without the “vital employability skills” required by employers such as having a suitable grasp of English, being punctual and having a general “can do” attitude, writes the Telegraph.

Compounding the current recruitment crisis affecting young people from teenage school leavers through to university graduates.

As a result of the Department for Education’s alarmingly narrow focus on academic skills and exams, Britain’s top bosses say they have no option but to recruit foreign workers, or to shift work abroad to overseas subsidiaries, writes Becky Barrow at the Daily Mail.

Ian Smith, the charity’s chairman, said that many British bosses were forced to hire foreign workers as a result.

“The situation is getting worse because the Department for Education is adopting an alarmingly narrow focus on academic skills and exams,” he told the Daily Mail. ”This will make it less likely that students emerge from education with these employability skills.”

According to international data published last month, by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), more teenagers in Britain are out of work and without a college place than in most other developed nations, with the UK being ranked ninth out of 32 nations judged by the number of 15- to 19-year-olds with effectively nothing to do.

The survey echoes public comments by other senior business leaders.

David Frost, the outgoing director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said school leavers do not have the skills needed for the world of work, forcing companies to spend billions of pounds bringing them up to speed, writes the Telegraph.

The BCC said many school leavers and graduates with ‘fairly useless’ degrees are unemployable because they lack basic skills.

One unnamed entrepreneur told researchers:

“Plenty of unemployed, mostly without experience in my sector. The interpersonal skills of some labour interviewed in the past have been very poor.”

In 2009 Sir Terry Leahy, the chief executive of Tesco, attacked the government’s “woeful” education record, claiming that too many teenagers left school without enough basic education to cope on a shop floor.

Sir Leahy said:

“Sadly, despite all the money that has been spent, standards are still woefully low in too many schools. Employers like us … are often left to pick up the pieces.”

A year later, Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco’s executive director of corporate and legal affairs, said school leavers had basic problems with literacy and numeracy and have major “attitude problems”.

A Department for Education spokesman said on Monday:

“We share the concerns of many businesses that too many of our young people leave school without the necessary skills – in particular in the basics of English and maths. That is why we are prioritising them.”

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