The School to Work Transition: Are young people prepared for the workplace?


It’s believed by some that schools are often responsible for putting too much emphasis on reaching the next level of academia and as a result, young people who do not progress on the university route are not prepared for the school to work transition. Despite this, it’s questionable whose responsibility this is, schools, or the businesses themselves? The British Chambers of Commerce recently called on businesses to take more responsibility to plug the gaps in young people’s skills and experience levels, but on the other hand, it’s argued that the curriculum needs updating to fit the changing needs of the labour market. So, let’s investigate, are young people being effectively prepared for the world of work?


The Youth unemployment rate is three times that of the rest of the working population

It’s unclear whether responsibility for providing exposure to workplace engagement skills is that of schools or businesses. It’s believed that those who do not wish to continue in education and pursue a career, often experience ‘fractured transitions’ as a result of a lack of clear and accessible post 16 information. This transitional phase can be the most challenging for young people who can feel pressured into continuing onto higher education when often they feel like going into work would suit them better. This point in a young person’s career plays an absolutely critical role in shaping their future passions and career goals, so maybe it is here where businesses should take the lead in facilitating school to work transitions and providing effective careers advice. On the other hand, could it be the schools duty to develop a curriculum where ‘soft’ skills are given as much attention as literacy skills? It’s unclear where the balance should be, but it is clear that both schools and businesses should be working collaboratively to prepare and educate young people for life after academia.

41% of business think universities are not preparing young people for careers

A study involving over 3000 leaders in business and education indicated that even those who do progress into further education are entering the world of work with sufficient soft skills ready for the workplace. The findings published by the British Chamber of Commerce have called for businesses to fill the gap between academic and workplace education. The transitional period is still a challenging time even for those who the extra years in education. Businesses should be taking more responsibility more educating young people on recruitment processes and helping to prepare them with good interview techniques and CV writing skills. Whilst education is of course of up most importance, providing workshops and skill sessions would be excellent in bridging the gap between education and the workplace.

Two thirds of companies believe secondary schools fail to prepare young people for careers

A schools priority can often be to encourage young people into further education so that sixth form places are filled, but for those who want the alternate route from school, more action to deliver quality careers advice is needed. To help with this, workplace engagement needs to happen sooner and more often for young people. Exposure to the workplace allows young people to understand practical and real life application of their studies. 79% of employers believe work experience is vital to help young people identify with aspects of working life like managing an income and taking responsibility for important tasks. The report has shown that too often young people are transitioning to the workplace without an appreciation for responsibility and an understanding of workplace environments; these team working and communication skills are often overlooked in education.


50% of jobs will require digital skills in the near future

This blog from Virgin suggested that in as soon as five years time, more than half of all jobs will require people to have a significant degree of digital skills; which are not necessarily taught in schools already. Whilst the majority of young people today are tech savvy in their social and gaming use of mobile technology, the future will require them to understand how these devices work; not just how to level up on Angry Birds! With this steep growth in the requirement for young people to learn these skills, again, it comes down to both schools and businesses working together to effectively prepare young people for the world of work.


Final Thoughts

Whilst we may not have the answer here, I hope this post has helped illustrate the challenges facing young people in workplace readiness. This is not to say there aren’t some excellent examples of businesses doing great work to help young people transition into work, and certainly there will be schools finding great success in providing workplace engagement for their students. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded Into Work Programme, which provided interview, CV and job searching skills to young men in UK schools is a great example of how businesses can help to plug the gap between education and work. Similarly, Barclay’s Life Skills programme worked to inspire young people to develop employability skills. Two intertwining issues are affecting post 16 options; increased government investment into apprenticeship and traineeship schemes as well as the recent university maintenance grants cuts. The result of this, is that more and more young people will be in desperate need of effective workplace preparation and careers advice over the coming years.

Cute Resource Solutions are proud to be following the great examples above, by partnering with Bristol Think Tank ‘Working Knowledge’, to help with the school to work transition. By sharing our careers and employability expertise, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work with schools and young people to deliver empowering education that employer’s value. We frequently visit schools to deliver workshops on CV writing, interview and presentation skills as well delivering post 16 careers advice to young people who want to transition straight into work.  We believe we can help here, and it’s our responsibility to share our skills with young people to work toward a new generation of young people who will be comfortable and confident in the workplace.

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