Schools must teach ’employability skills’

Schools must teach ’employability skills’

Schools should teach honesty, reliability, teamwork and punctuality to boost young people’s job prospects, said 65% of adults today (Weds 7) in a Young Enterprise poll.

They said the Government should make it a top priority to put the learning of these ‘employability skills’ in the National Curriculum, according to the survey of more than 2,000 respondents.

The demand for formal teaching of the morals, attitudes and behaviour needed for a successful career at work came 12% ahead of the second most popular option – to focus the curriculum even more narrowly on academic knowledge as the Coalition currently plans to do.

The poll also revealed the free-spirited tycoon Sir Richard Branson was the business figure parents would most like their children to look up to. He was backed by 58% of respondents.

Researchers put eight different suggestions to a balanced and representative cross section of British adults for what schools should be ordered do to prepare Britain’s young people better for the world of work.

Respondents were allowed tick yes or no to all – or none – of the options. The options were then ranked in order of popularity (see table below).

Opinium’s insights suggest there is considerable support among parents for exposing young people to a wider curriculum designed to boost employability. At a time when almost one million young people are out of work and many took part in the recent riots, employers argue that the lack of the right ‘attitude’ to work among British youth justifies employing talent from Eastern Europe.

Significantly, the youngest 18-34 year olds in the survey were keenest on a more job-oriented curriculum. Only 39% wanted a purely academic approach to school life, compared to 51% of adults and 67% of over 55’s.

Promoting schemes like Young Enterprise was backed by 41 % of respondents overall.

Asked which successful business figure they would prefer their children to look up to Virgin entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson emerged well in the lead (58%). He outstripped the presenter of BBC TVs ‘The Apprentice,’ Lord Alan Sugar, who scored (36%) and vacuum cleaner tycoon James Dyson (31%). Model Katie Price came in last (1%). Victoria Beckham, Max Clifford and Louie Walsh all came close on 2%.

Ian Smith, chairman of Young Enterprise, said: ‘’This powerful research by Young Enterprise shows the British public wants a sea-change in the way we teach our children to be responsible citizens and prepare them better for the world of work.

‘The Government has shown it is aware and willing to address the failure of basic learning. No one disputes high standards of maths, English and science are vital. But the current policy is alarmingly narrow. In the wake of the riots the Government must also provide young people with the skills, moral outlook, attitudes and behaviour that young people actually need in their working lives. Young people need employability skills like teamwork, presentation, reliability, honesty, integrity, and punctuality that employers look for. This is why we have launched the Young Enterprise Charter, a petition which has gained major support among businesses for its aim of getting enterprise education firmly established in the statutory curriculum. We will be presenting the results to Parliament in October.’

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,016 UK adults aged 18+ from 3rd to 5th August 2011. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

The research was carried out by Opinium Research on behalf of Young Enterprise, Britain’s largest enterprise education charity, which sends 5,000 business volunteers into classrooms to teach 250,000 young people about the world of work every year. In 2011, some 30,000 pupils ran their own business for a year.

Opinium Research is a full service market research agency offering quantitative and qualitative marketing research and consultancy across a range of sectors. These include consumer markets, financial services and insurance, technology, business to business, advertising and media, automotive, business and leisure travel, politics and healthcare. Opinium’s offering spans consultancy, syndicated, Omnibus and field and data services. Opinium runs a daily low-cost online Omnibus survey interviewing 2000 UK adults per wave.