Firms say teenagers are still poorly prepared for the world of work after new research showed nearly three in ten employers who took on school-leavers in Birmingham were left disappointed.
A government agency asked organisations which had taken on 17-18-year-olds how they felt their new employees shaped up for the workplace.
Some 29 per cent of Birmingham’s employers rated their new workers as poorly or very poorly prepared.
Greg Lowson, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said the results showed there was still a long way to go to better prepare youngsters for work. He said: “Businesses have been raising concerns with the work-readiness of new recruits for some time.
“As a rule, the UK’s education system focuses far too narrowly on league tables and academic attainment and not enough on preparing young people for the world of work.
“There are some excellent schools and academies in the Birmingham area who are leading the way in terms of working with employers to give their pupils real experience of work.
“We would like to encourage more schools to follow their lead and work with the business community.
“However, while schools, colleges and universities are best placed to see to young people’s academic education it is businesses, and business people, who are out experiencing current industry trends on a day to day basis.
“We are actively encouraging more businesses to work together with schools in their area.”
The research puts Birmingham in line with the national average – across England 29 per cent of employers thought their young employees were badly prepared.
When the question was asked of 16 year old employees in Birmingham, the proportion rose to 42 per cent. A lack of experience of working life was the top reason cited by Birmingham employers as the quality lacking from their 17-18 year old workers, with 17 per cent saying so.
This was followed by a lack of required skills, with 13 per cent agreeing and a poor attitude or personality, mentioned by 12 per cent of organisations.
In Walsall, as many as 42 per cent of organisations said their 17-18 year old recruits were badly prepared for the jobs they had secured.
The survey was run by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, which is part of the Department for Business.
The chamber has recently released a Handbook on Business Engagement with Schools on the benefits of developing partnerships with education.”