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Invest in Youth Skills to Future-Proof the Workforce

A ‘stable and coherent’ skills strategy is needed to prepare young people for the world of work, according to first ever British Chambers of Commerce Youth Skills Manifesto.

The manifesto, sponsored by the leading online secondary school King’s InterHigh, identifies the crucial role of employers in supporting young people to transition from education to employment. It also calls on politicians at Westminster and across the devolved nations, to do more to ensure young people have the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in life and in work.

Among the recommendations

  • Schools must ensure every young person leaving education has the basic literacy, numeracy and digital skills, as well as the key transferrable skills, required for the modern workplace.
  • Every young person must have the opportunity to engage in applied learning.
  • Every school, college and university across the UK should have a full-time resource for careers.
  • Policymakers should provide clarity on the future of technical and vocational skills qualifications and ensure there are progression routes for learners at all levels.
  • Increased flexibility and reduced complexity in the apprenticeship funding system would help to remove barriers for employers and young people.

The report highlights the key skills employers look for in young people and how individuals will need to embrace new learning throughout their careers as the workplace becomes more technical, automated and low carbon focused. It examines the important role of technical education, notably T-Levels, Higher Technical Qualifications and Apprenticeships across England

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“Young people are the future of our economy and preparing them for the world of work is crucial.

“Alongside government and the education system, business has an important role to play in engaging, informing, training and supporting young people.

“Firms are telling us they are struggling to hire staff with the right skills. So now is the time to invest more in our future workforce. We need to raise awareness and aspiration and give young people all the support they need to get great jobs and achieve their full potential in the world of work.

“The curriculum must help young people develop essential, transferable skills and ensure everyone has access to high quality, impartial careers advice. We need a stable and coherent skills strategy, and our youth skills manifesto outlines a practical roadmap for policymakers to support young people on their journey from primary school to further and higher education and training.

“Across England, employers are coming together to identify the skills needed for the jobs they are creating in their local communities. Chamber-led Local Skills Improvement Plans are setting out the priorities for change in local communities and helping ensure the best training opportunities are available for our future workforce.

“Our message to policymakers in all parts of the UK is clear – the right steps must be taken today, to develop the workforce of tomorrow”.

Ashley Harrold, CEO of Inspired Online Schools including King’s InterHigh said:

“For the past 20 years, King’s InterHigh has put personalised education at the heart of our offering. As the original online school, we have shaped our curriculum and invested in state-of-the-art technology, recognising that the most effective way to unlock the full potential of every young person is by providing them with an education that’s tailored to their needs, interests, and aspirations.

“We do this because, as educators, we believe every student can be supported to discover their passions, develop lifelong learning skills, and go on to make great contributions to their future career.

“We also recognise that the world of work is going through an unprecedented change and that the sheer pace of this evolution means that the workplace encountered by future generations may be markedly different from what we know today. That’s why we wholeheartedly agree with the conclusions of the BCC’s report, and firmly back its recommendations, recognising that we all must play our part to support the future workforce.

“A nationwide youth skills strategy is not just a nice-to-have; it is a necessity, and a promise that will equip the youth of today with all the tools, knowledge, and adaptability needed to thrive in the workplace of tomorrow.”