British students: Business leaders have called for more to be done to close the skills gap with other countries Many school leavers are damaging business because they lack literacy and numeracy skills and do not even know how to dress properly for work, say bosses.
An urgent plea for more to be done to close the skills gap with other countries will be made at the annual conference of the Federation of Small Businesses in London tomorrow.
National policy chairman Mike Cherry, whose organisation represents nearly 200,000 smaller companies, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We have been trailing behind in business globally for far too long because of the skills shortage.
‘It is probably the most serious issue facing firms. It’s been an issue for many, many years.
‘The low standard of numeracy and literacy skills is a huge problem as is employability.
‘Many young people are just not prepared for the workplace in their attitude or dress.’
Earlier this year the head of the education body Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said trainee teachers were being sent into classrooms not knowing how to dress or behave appropriately.
Cherry added: ‘Careers advice is missing in many areas, while enterprise should be taught in schools.
‘While we welcome moves to increase the scope and number of apprenticeships, a lot more work has to be done around the needs of employers and workers.’
A long way to go: Many young people leave school unprepared for the workplace, the FSB warned.
A few months ago I conducted a series of mock interviews for university students which was a key part of their career management programme. They were told by their tutors to treat it as a “formal interview” so prepare well and dress appropriately i.e. business dress.
It was interesting that the most appropriately dressed were the international students, particularly those from China and Eastern Europe (Romania and Bulgaria). They turned up in smart suits and shoes and the young women in suits or smart dresses.
By far the worst were the local students who either had no comprehension of “business attire” or simply didn’t care. They appeared in hoodies, t-shirts, casual jumpers and trainers. Some who had made an effort to wear a collar and tie killed the whole effect by wearing jeans and trainers as accompaniment.
I raised the issue of dress with the tutors after the interview and they stressed that the students had been given “advice” on what was deemed to be business dress and also told them that they would be assessed on their “impression management.”
So, I can only draw the conclusion that either they did not listen or completely ignored the advice as being irrelevant. Hence we get the criticism of students contained in the above article.