How schools can help close the skills gap

Chris Moore tells us what the education system can do to close the skills gap.

The lack of skills in workers fresh to the workforce isn’t a new problem – according to the Unlocking Britain’s Potential report from 2012, 53% of employers and 46% of employees say that university does not equip graduates with the right skills for the workplace. 

The research also found that 52% of workers think the education system has failed to provide young people with the skills needed for the workplace. In fact, 46% of graduate workers confirm this, believing that university does not give them the right skills they need to do their job.

This was reflected in more recent research carried out by Career Colleges. Their research found that: ‘three quarters (76%) of pupils say that their school trains them just to pass exams and get good grades rather than preparing them for the world of work.’

In light of the recent Matthew Taylor review, here’s what the education system can do to better prepare people for the world of work, and ultimately help to close the skills gaps.

Collaborating with businesses

One step schools can take to close the skills gaps is to work more closely with businesses to make work experience more of a priority and internships more accessible.

By partnering with local businesses, schools can help students understand the importance of, and develop, the soft skills they need for when they enter the workforce.

In fact, the Unlocking Britain’s Potential report from 2012 found that 67% of employers think there needs to be a collaborative effort between government, employers, parents, individuals and the education system to provide those new to the workforce with the skills potential employers need – I believe this is still important today.

By partnering with local businesses, schools can help students understand the importance of, and develop, the soft skills they need for when they enter the workforce. Pupils nearing graduation would then have more confidence to transition from education to the world of work.

Schools should also look for development and advisory opportunities for their students. This scheme gives people practical help with job hunting and work experience to ensure they are prepared to enter the workforce.

Employing teachers with outside experience

Another step schools can take to better develop students’ soft skills is to recruit teachers who have experience to bring from outside of the education sector. Students would then learn from teachers that are able to offer a different, more commercial perspective.

In addition, it will provide students with knowledge of different industries so they’re aware of their options and can make more informed career choices.

Whilst this may mean that the education system is forced to consider adjusting their salaries to attract individuals with business experience, the benefits are considerable. But schools shouldn’t be alone in promoting the recruitment of teachers from other sectors – the government should also actively create opportunities to attract these individuals.

With more information on what courses can be taken to qualify as a teacher, and also programmes designed specifically for those outside the education sector, highly talented and motivated individuals could be more tempted to embrace a career change into teaching. 

Closing the skills gap is undoubtedly a massive challenge that needs to be collectively tackled by the Government, business and the education system. By collaborating closely with businesses to help students develop the key skills they need to join the workforce and recruiting teachers with outside experience, schools can play a truly pivotal role in helping to close the skills gap.


About the author

Chris Moore is president of group operations at The Adecco Group UK&I.


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