Polling conducted by Teacher Tapp shows that 78% of teachers in the South East think graduating students are less ready for the workplace.
Education charity, Teach First, has released the data to coincide with its latest report.
Called, Careers Education: Investing in Our Country’s Future, the report focuses on how improvements can be made to the way businesses connect with students before they leave.
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A specific emphasis has been placed on trying to get children from disadvantaged backgrounds to level up, the charity says.
In total, 43% of teachers believe the pandemic has negatively impacted pupils’ thoughts on their career prospects.
Teach First also contacted over 500 decision makers from businesses and found they share the teachers’ concerns.
Over half (58%) of South East businesses said they were concerned by potential ‘lost learning’ during lockdowns that will exasperate skills shortages.
Research from the charity suggests that while grades are of great importance, other skills are also highly valued by employers.
When asked to select the top three skills that they would consider most if recruiting young people, they were most likely to choose broader soft skills (71%), literacy and numeracy (53%), and digital and IT skills (39%).
Yet, when asked fpr their assessment of the preparedness of current school, college and university leavers, seven in 10 (71%) local businesses said that they were concerned about their level of soft skills. They also reported concerns about the level of literacy and numeracy (71%) and digital and IT skills (47%).
Teach First argues in favour of a series of recommendations which they believe could make a tangible impact on young people’s employability.
Nearly seven in 10 (68%) of teachers agreed that improved careers education would decrease the number of young people that end up classified as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
Children on free school meals are currently twice as likely to be NEET at age 18-24 compared to those not (26% compared to 13%).
Teach First believes careers education needs to start at primary school level.
In its research two thirds of teachers agreed, in the South East with 68% of those polled saying it will raise aspirations and increase youngsters’ awareness about the different opportunities available to them.
Teach First is calling on the Department for Education to work with sector leaders and publish a framework to help primary school teachers support children in disadvantaged areas.
Included in this the charity would like to see blended work experience programmes for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, ran by large employers.
Teach First wants large employers to collect and publish socioeconomic background data showing their recruitment policies.
Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said: “Our country’s long-term prosperity depends on the next generation of young people. Careers education is an essential part of that – making a significant impact on a young person’s development at school, as well as their future employment opportunities.
"Schools do their best to prepare pupils for the world of work, but that is not their core purpose.
"That is why we believe it is essential that employers are involved in shaping the future of careers education.
“For too long, securing high quality careers advice and work experience has been a postcode lottery – that must change. With concerns over the cost-of-living crisis, and a potential recession later in the year, it’s vital that we do everything we can to give our young people the best possible chance to succeed and thrive in the world of work.”