Small businesses “frustrated” by unemployable school leavers

Study suggests education system is failing British businesses


More than 50% of Britain’s micro businesses want to expand their workforce – but are put off by the dearth of suitable talent in the labour market.

That is according to new research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) which surveyed more than 2,200 businesses, each with fewer than 10 employees.

The study revealed that business owners are wary of younger jobseekers. Only 22% said they would have faith in the abilities of a school leaver, educated to A-level or an equivalent standard, and almost half admitted that they would feel nervous about recruiting from within that age group.

The findings suggest that the UK’s education system is failing the domestic business sector, with only 36% of respondents convinced that a graduate would possess the right skills for their vacancy.

Furthermore, the study revealed that firms are becoming disillusioned with the use of employment agencies, since the Agency Workers Directive was introduced – which demands that agency workers on temporary contracts receive the same treatment as permanent employees. Of those firms with less than five personnel which currently use agency workers, a quarter stated that they would use fewer agency workers  in future as a direct result of the legislation.

Meanwhile, six in ten small employers admitted feeling uninformed about changes to employment law and the same proportion stated that the rules around employee dismissal placed a burden on their company – which in some cases deterred them from taking on staff in the first place.

Adam Marshall, BCC’s director of policy, said that an improved skills system was needed in Britain to better meet employers’ needs. He added:

“Despite high levels of unemployment, many micro firms are frustrated by the quality of applicants for vacant roles. There is a real mismatch between business needs and local skills supply, with many businesses unable to find school leavers or even graduates with the right mix of skills. At a time when we need to fight hard for every new private sector job, Britain needs a skills system that delivers what businesses require.”

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