Over the last two weeks millions of young people have received their A-level and GCSEs results – life-changing moments which may be leading to a university place, an apprenticeship or that first rung on the employment ladder. I’m delighted that the City’s mixed family of schools and academies has again done...
Over the last two weeks millions of young people have received their A-level and GCSEs results – life-changing moments which may be leading to a university place, an apprenticeship or that first rung on the employment ladder.
I’m delighted that the City’s mixed family of schools and academies has again done well in these tests. But good results are not all that is needed for success in later life.
With results consistently improving each year, employers can count the academic ability of job seekers as a given.
What’s more important is a young person’s ability to perform in the workplace and bring a wealth of practical employability skills, such as communication, presentation and problem-solving.
London hosts some of the most successful firms and according to various research papers will continue to outpace the rest of the UK in job growth.
These employers will need thousands of talented young people to expand their workforce and ensure they remain competitive. But all too often the young people who are recruited are drawn from a narrow section of society.
Relying on a small talent pool is not sustainable for any business with serious growth ambitions.
We urgently need to provide young people with the skills that employers are looking for if we are to address the current disconnect between skills and business needs in London.
I represent the business interests of the Square Mile and work with many boroughs on this issue, so am acutely aware of this ‘soft’ skills gap. It is employers who need to demonstrate to schools how to attain these ‘soft skills’.
While many schools and businesses are indeed addressing these challenges more work must be done to raise awareness of skilled jobs and how young people can secure them. Pupils also need more frequent exposure to the workplace so they understand the practical and ‘real life’ application of their studies.
The City, along with businesses across the Capital, have so much to offer our communities. By mobilising our workforce, resources and talent, in particular through volunteering, we can really address the most pressing issues our communities face.
The Corporation’s ‘City Careers Open House’ project has to date assisted just under 7,000 children in primary and secondary schools with insight days in the City to raise aspirations.
The National Skills Academy for Financial Services also provides employers with training and development on this subject.
The Corporation recently became the proud sponsor of The Social Mobility Employer Index, which rates employers on their efforts to increase social mobility. I want to encourage employers to apply to the index next year and consider addressing social mobility through their current employment schemes.
Businesses can act as role models, making sure that their own support is the best that it can be.
Organisations seeking to become involved should focus on specific groups and partner with an organisation that has specific experience of working with young people.
Smaller institutions make targeted interventions, and a number of larger organisations also take an effective “small and local” approach.
By taking on a more significant role in education, businesses have the best chance of reducing the skills gap and supporting growth.