Focus on exam results risks excluding young people from work

Speaking alongside Nick Clegg, David Miliband and leading business figures at the CBI’s Action for Jobs summit, John Cridland, CBI Director-General urged businesses and government to work together to do more to give people the skills and opportunities they need to get jobs.

Mr Cridland said: “Youth unemployment has been rising since 2004, so it’s clear that a return to growth alone will not be enough to tackle the underlying causes of the problem.

“Today’s young people are entering a complex world, and are making choices from the age of 13 that will define what they will be able to do with their lives. We ask a lot more of them in making their way in the world than was asked of previous generations.

“Unemployment blights lives. Imbalances in the economy – and between regions – mount up further, and the costs of those millions of people being out of work run into billions of pounds each and every year.

The CBI has published an assessment of progress made since it published its Action for Jobs report last October. It says headway has been made on a £1 billion Youth Contract, but the range of available initiatives must be made simpler for employers.

Andy Powell, Director of the Unlocking Britain’s Potential Campaign (spearheaded by Adecco Group, Deloitte and Cisco to enhance the employability of the nation) said:

“John Cridland is right to say that Britain’s education system needs reform so that our young people are better prepared for the world of work.

“Adecco Group’s Unlocking Britain’s Potential campaign supports this call for change, as we strongly believe that the UK’s education system is failing to equip students with the sort of skills valued by today’s employers. We are calling for employers to have much greater say in the curriculum so that young people are taught workplace skills as well as gaining academic qualifications.

“We need to address the over-emphasis on academic exam results, which means too many young people are at risk of being excluded from work and employers are facing a serious skills shortage – preventing them from competing in global markets, and stunting economic growth. It is vital that employers and policy makers work together to reform our education system, so that we can help our young people realise their potential.”

“The result is sharp divides between the haves and have-nots, and across generational lines. As employers we can and should step up to give all of our young people the support they deserve.”