City firms call for better skills

05-07-2005

School-leavers with good exam grades still lack essential skills such as letter-writing and being able to do basic sums, City employers say. Some 26 banks, law firms, accountancy firms and insurers also said many teenage job applicants lacked the confidence to get through interviews.

A Corporation of London report calls for school coaching in maths and English for business use.

They should offer more work experience and in-depth careers advice, it says.

'�50,000 a year'

The corporation looked at the requirements businesses had of school-leavers with GCSEs and A-levels.

These teenagers would typically be taken on to do secretarial, clerical, customer support or technical jobs, with starting salaries of between �10,000 and �20,000 a year.

Some non-graduates could hope to earn up to �50,000 within a few years, the report said.

Having carried out interviews with 32 personnel officers, the corporation found many applicants, particularly those from inner-London, had "raw" social skills.

This meant more "relevant" training was needed in schools, to encourage teamwork, better appearance at work and clearly spoken English.

One personnel officer said applicants had to be tested for knowledge of the alphabet before giving them a job which involved filing.

Michael Snyder, chairman of the corporation's policy and resources committee, said: "The success of the financial and related business services sector depends upon the skills of its people.

"City-type businesses need to ensure they can attract and retain the best staff, able to meet the complex skill needs of the 21st Century."

Many potential candidates showed a "lack of awareness" of the "abundance" of suitable jobs available, leading to a "skills gap" in the City.

The report calls for the government to recognise "high-quality" entrants to job training as being of equal status to students starting degrees, to aid recruitment.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said: "We are toughening the GCSE so that in future no-one will be able to get a higher grade in English or maths without mastering the basics.

"We are going to free up the curriculum, starting at age 11, to make space for extra help and support on English and maths to ensure that those children who fall behind can catch up.

"And we will introduce a new diploma to recognise those who achieve five good GCSEs or equivalent, including English and maths."

BBC News

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