If Only campaign launched to close skills gap

Survey results suggest that over 2,000 adults felt they did not learn skills that would help them in work at school

Young people in the UK want to learn more skills they will need for the world of work, and The Prince’s Responsible Business Network has launched its If Only campaign to call on employers to increase activities that help young people develop these skills.

This follows a survey of 2,097 adults commissioned by Business in the Community, which found that many people who have been in employment did not learn skills at school which they feel would have been useful in their working lives. Top of the wish list were computing and coding skills (30% of respondents), followed by leadership and teamwork (29%), seeking out opportunities and aiming high (28%), thinking positively (27%) and problem solving (25%).

Amongst 18-24-year-olds who have been in employment, many of these figures were even higher – 39% wanted to be taught computing skills and 31% wanted to learn more about thinking positively, whilst 22% wished they’d been taught more creativity skills (compared to 17% overall).

Many people who have been in employment did not learn skills at school which they feel would have been useful in their working lives

To tackle this issue, Business in the Community’s latest campaign, If Only is launching today as part of the charity’s Education Symposium – an event that brings together business leaders, schools and policymakers to share ideas and debate. The campaign has three calls to action for UK employers:

  •        Run activities that help young people develop skills through partnering with schools
  •        Use a common language on skills so that young people, teachers and employers can work together to prepare young people for the future of work
  •        Share their own If Only story and their commitment to inspire others using #IfOnly on social media

Rachael Saunders, Education Director at Business in the Community, said: “This research suggests that while recent school leavers are more likely to have been taught skills such as computing and resilience at school, they are simply not learning enough of these skills to thrive in their future careers. In a rapidly changing global business environment, it is vital that all young people, particularly those facing social disadvantage, can reach their full potential and lead successful working lives.

The research also shows that there is a strong appetite for employers to do more to help young people develop skills for their future careers. 62% of people thought business should offer more work experience to young people, whilst 57% wanted employers to run practical sessions in schools.