Work experience for pupils should be top priority
21 October 2015
MORE young people need to spend time in workplaces while still at school or the gap between the worlds of work and education will not be bridged, says a business leader.
Hampshire Chamber of Commerce (HCC) chairman Andrew Finney has called on the Government to welcome the findings of a major new survey and recognise the importance of pre-16 work experience.
County firms took part in the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Business and Education Survey of more than 3,500 company bosses and education leaders across the country.
“Overwhelmingly, 82 % of all business respondents and 73 % of all education-based respondents believe secondary schools should offer work experience for pupils under 16,” said Mr Finney, Chairman of Hampshire-based employee relocation and property management company HCR Ltd.
Compulsory work experience was scrapped by the Government in 2012 and Mr Finney has urged politicians to reverse that decision and bring it back, as part of HCC’s active backing for the national Bridging the Gap education and skills campaign.
He said: “It has been made absolutely clear from the survey that our business leaders believe we won’t bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in workplaces while still at school.
“The Government must act to bring back compulsory work experience for under-16s. It has been deprioritised, but it remains a crucial way of helping ensure more young people are prepared for work and give them the chance to sample the challenges and excitement of the workplace.
“Hampshire businesses are frustrated by yawning skills gaps and facing huge difficulty in filling vacancies at every level.”
Mr Finney said HCC pledged to work with the Government to ensure that more and more businesses engage with schools, offer work placements to young people and help the next generation get a start in their working lives.
He added: “Hampshire Chamber has for some years been actively engaged in developing and sustaining links between businesses and the education community through new joint ventures with Education Business Partnerships in the north and south of the county.”
The BCC survey also found that while two-thirds of businesses offered some form of work experience, many of Hampshire’s smaller or micro companies did not and felt they needed more support and encouragement to do so.
Eight-four per cent of Hampshire firms believe work experience helps young people develop best, followed by paid part-time work (70%), volunteering (51%), enterprise activities (43%), team sports (45%), business mentoring (38%) and Duke of Edinburgh Award (36%).
County firms that don’t currently offer work experience would be encouraged to do so by having someone to facilitate the relationship with the school (36%) and having more information about what is required (32%) - while having more clarity on the benefits to their business came in at just 8%.
However, 24% of participating Hampshire firms said nothing would encourage them to offer work experience.
Skills young people need when entering the jobs market, according to Hampshire businesses, were topped by communications (95%), literacy (71%), numeracy (61%), team work (54%), computer skills (54%) and problem solving (39%) Language skills trailed in at just 3%.
In last year’s BCC Workplace survey, businesses felt young people lacked basic employability skills such as communication skills, resilience and insight into how to act appropriately in the workplace.
ww.hampshirechamber.co.uk or www.britishchambers.org.uk