Small businesses believe schools should prepare students for the world of work

Eight out of 10 firms do not believe school leavers are ready to enter the world of work, research indicates.

According to a survey from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), more should be done to help youngsters prepare for employment.

More than half of those who responded to the survey (59%) who already employ 16 to 17 year-olds said the literacy skills of their young workers are poor.

The results come as thousands of young people receive their GCSE results.

Some 55% of those firms asked said numeracy was poor, while 56% said communication skills were not up to scratch.

It was no surprise that two in three FSB members said that bettering basic literacy and numeracy skills would help young people to prepare better for jobs in small businesses.

Last week, figures showed that there are still one million youngsters out of work, and the FSB has concerns that youngsters who do not have the right skills will find it hard to secure employment in today's jobs market.

Some 77% of the 2,774 survey respondents that have employees aged 16 and 17 found that the general business awareness of school leavers was poor.

The duty of schools to offer extended careers' guidance to students as early as they can is key to preparing youngsters for the workplace, it is believed.

Teaching young people about CV writing, problem solving, time-keeping and team working and offering early careers guidance would help employers and give students an improved view of potential jobs and career paths.

John Walker, national chairman of the federation, said: "Businesses are more than ready to invest time and money training staff in job-related skills, but expect them to come with at least the basics.

"It is a concern that businesses have again highlighted numeracy, literacy and core workplace skills, such as communication, as major problems.

"These are the skills with which young people need to be equipped with to be successful in today's tough jobs market.

"We want to see schools give these skills a higher priority by embedding them in all teaching from an early stage.

"All schools should be offering work experience to their pupils and engaging with local small businesses to ensure that young people are getting the work-related learning that they need."

Copyright Press Association 2012