John Cope, Head of Education & Skills, CBI


Character and broader skills need greater emphasis in education

Almost one in four young people (aged 17-23) do not feel adequately prepared by their education for the world of work.  That’s according to data from the CBI.

With close to half of all employers (44%) finding young people leaving school, college or university are not ready for the world of work, businesses want character and broader skills, from team leadership to problem solving, to be embedded in the educational curriculum to a much greater extent.

47% of teachers felt that there were fewer opportunities to develop employability skills and competencies due to changes in GCSEs and A-Levels, citing a new focus on rote learning as a detriment to developing the skills and attitudes needed for work. 

In this new CBI report - Getting young people ‘work ready’, employers identify three broad areas that are essential for the world of work:

  1. Character
  2. Knowledge, and
  3. Skills.

To address this, the government, supported by a greater contribution from employers, should:

  • Rethink the role and form of GCSEs in an education and training system that goes to 18, rather than 16
  • Reform the English Baccalaureate to ensure it fully encompasses a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum, especially when it comes to creativity
  • Develop a shared understanding of what ‘character’ really means with educators, government and employers - starting with the SkillsBuilder framework
  • Better coordinate the support available to young people from government, employers and educators - including the joining up of the Careers Strategy and Youth Charter.





mary boustedCommenting on the report, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The NEU welcomes the CBI’s report, particularly in that it recognises teachers’ concerns about the limiting nature of the EBacc and the challenges schools face in teaching a breadth of subjects but also in offering a broad range of experiences to support young people in their future lives in work and in society, families and relationships.

“We have said again and again that the EBacc policy will penalise schools for offering a broad and balanced curriculum, tailored to the needs and interests of their children, and we can see GCSE entries continuing to collapse across many subjects. This policy has reduced the breadth of subjects offered in many secondary schools, limited opportunities for our children, and driven many staff out of the teaching profession. Long-term damage has been inflicted on creative and technical subjects excluded from the EBacc; subjects such as art, music and technology, that are not just crucial for our economic prosperity but also enrich lives, are disappearing from our schools.

“The need for a high quality and impartial careers services in schools and colleges is more important than ever yet funding an adequate infrastructure to provide such a service has been continually cut back or removed entirely. Our education system is clearly broken and the Government needs to do some serious rethinking about the short-sighted and narrow vision of education they are providing for our future generations.”





“Whether it’s globalisation, longer and more diverse careers or rapid technological change - employers, government and educators must work better together to prepare young people for the modern world.

“Too often, young people are left feeling unprepared for work by and employers feel the same when those starting out join their companies. Young people have knowledge and potential in abundance, but the rounded character, real world experience and creativity needed to apply knowledge is sometimes lacking.

“Ensuring young people are prepared for the modern world is not the education system’s responsibility alone. To help our education system keep up with a rapidly changing world, it’s vital we help the two-thirds of employers who want to get more involved in education to do so. Whether it’s helping deliver parts of the curriculum, offering work experience and careers advice, or getting involved as a governor or trustee, employers have an immense contribution to make.”

John Cope, Head of Education & Skills, CBI 

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