Business and education leaders: Make under 16 work experience a national priority

By Anita Jaynes on 14 October, 2015

A national survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has found that the vast majority of business, school and college leaders want ministers to recognise the importance of pre-16 work experience.

The survey of over 3,500 business bosses and education leaders found that:

·         82% of business respondents and 73% of respondents from schools, colleges and universities believe secondary schools should offer work experience for pupils aged under 16.
·         79% of employers think work experience is the most important activity to equip young people with workplace skills.
·         While the majority of businesses offer some form of work experience, a third of businesses (36%) offer no work experience of any kind. Micro and small businesses, in particular, need greater support to offer work experience.

Commenting on the survey, Ian Larrard, Director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West, said:

“With a feeling of déjà vu, today sees another survey highlight the need for action to tackle the skills gap. The message coming out of the results is: we won’t bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in workplaces while still at school.

“Youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and our local research has told us that a low percentage of businesses in the South West believe that school and college leavers are well prepared for work. Experience in the workplace is crucial to bringing down our youth unemployment rate and ensuring more young people are prepared for work – and these survey results show passion for placements from both businesses and educators.

“The tools are in place for increasing the amount of placements. Earlier this month we saw the launch of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) ‘Your Future’ initiative, linking businesses with schools, colleges and training providers to improve young people’s prospects for a successful career. The South West will host four events as part of this programme, beginning in November.

“With today’s news that four out of five businesses believe work experience is the answer but a third still not offering any placements, we urge more businesses to open their doors to help bridge the skills gap. The government must also play their part by bringing back compulsory work experience for under 16s.”

For information on ‘Your Future’ events in the South West, contact Phil Bridgeman in the Business West membership team on phil.bridgeman@businesswest.co.uk or 0800 980 2789.

Pictured above: Ian Larrard, Director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West