UK Education System Not Preparing Kids for Work, Parents Say

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A new survey shows that 75% of parents in the UK feel the education system is not preparing their children for the workforce.

The poll, conducted by City and Guilds, asked 3,500 parents about their feelings concerning their children’s education and their future employment prospects.

They found that 64% of parents believe schools are not teaching skills that employers want to see, including communication and teamwork, and 49% believe employers care more about work experience than good grades.  Over half of the parents polled (57%) believe the education system is too focused on academics.  In addition, 36% feel their children will not see how their education corresponds to future employment opportunities.

The study also found that 70% of the parents polled do not feel that 16-year-old children are capable of making life-decisions for themselves.  While 66% believe they still need to play a role in offering advice to students concerning school, 51% do not feel they are able to do so.

Positively, 72% feel that vocational educations are just as useful as academic degrees for starting a successful career.

Chris Jones, chief executive of the City and Guilds Group, feels that parents today cannot be expected have a working knowledge of all the opportunities available to their children, and that the education system needs to do more.

“It’s no surprise that parents are concerned about their children’s futures,” he said. “The education system isn’t doing enough to link what’s being learnt in the classroom to future careers, or advise young people about the opportunities available to them. This isn’t good enough.

“It’s crucial that young people are given the chance to understand what the workplace is like, and learn about the skills they need to open the door to their dream jobs.”

Two additional recent polls, by CBI/Pearson and the British Chamber of Commerce, had similar findings.

A spokesman for the Department of Education responded to the poll, saying:

“Our plan for education is designed to give every child the knowledge and skills they need to prepare them for life in modern Britain, and getting them ready for the world of work is part of this.   We have reformed the curriculum and introduced world-class qualifications to raise standards across the board.  We have ensured that young people who don’t have at least a C grade in GCSE English and maths — the two subjects most valued by employers — must continue studying those subjects up to the age of 18.”

In a separate study, the Resolution Foundation discovered that the number of UK workers making only 2/3 of the minimum wage, or about $12 an hour, has risen by 250,000 people to reach a total 5.2 million.

The report discussed the seriousness of the problem, stating that almost 25% of workers who were stuck in a low-paying job were still there five years later.

As the election draws nearer, the Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats are in agreement that there is a growing need for better vocational training in the UK.  Education Secretary Nicky Morgan stated that employers should have access to highly skilled employees, and every child should have access to the training that will help them get ahead in life.