It’s long been said that our education system is failing the youth of today… Thousands of school-leavers and graduates are being rejected each year, time and time again because of a distinct lack of the ‘real-life skills’ that employers are looking for. Can we really blame our children or do our schools need a shake-up? We took a closer look at the real issues the top industry experts and leading recruitment CEO’s are facing when interviewing graduates and school-leavers recently, and got their take on how they’d shake things up ‘if recruiters wrote The National Curriculum’.
Browse the morning headlines on your daily commute and you’re bound to see a frequent topic cropping up, our education system is failing the youth of today, but how? School leavers are often being labelled work-shy and ‘entitled’ with schools labelled as ‘exam factories’ more focused on grades, league tables, OfSted reports and ticking boxes than setting students up for life in the real world. In such a talent-short market, what can we take from this and what would we do differently if recruiters wrote the National Curriculum? With Brexit on the horizon and a possible curb in highly-skilled foreign students, we have to look to our own youth population to step up and fill the skills-gap.
With the youth of today becoming ever more tech-savvy, it’s no surprise that poor communication skills are often the highest rating issue hiring managers are coming up against. With 4 in 10 companies in the UK now feeling they have no option but to self-fund basic English and literacy courses to upskill their staff, this is the first thing we’d tackle given the chance. While no one can deny we live (and work) in a tech-rich environment, it’s surely still a fundamental basic expectation that our children leave school with the ability to hold a conversation in an articulate manner and be able to engage with others? After all, the works of Shakespeare and ‘Of Mice and Men’ are great but we want to see more emphasis of class debates, topical conversations and how to engage with people from different walks of life.
Sports Day, it’s a bit like Marmite. I for one was never going to be the next Usain Bolt but that didn’t stop my drive to succeed in as many areas of my education as I could. A lack of competitive edge fuelled by an education system that is teaching our kids that ‘everyone’s a winner’ and ‘here’s a medal for turning up’ is next on the hit list. This is one that’s close to my heart after my own son came home from school one day with a certificate and a medal for Sports Day. Ever the optimist, I instantly congratulated him, before asking in which event he’d achieved it. He then proceeded to explain to me how the whole school had been given them ‘for taking part’ so as to leave no-one out. Now even at the age of 6 my son knew there was no value in this, he’d not achieved anything distinct and he’d not earned it through skill or hard work so why are we choosing to teach our kids that basically you can just ‘turn up’ in life and expect something? Nobody in recruitment needs to be told that we graft and put in the extra (usually unpaid) hours, not only for our basic, but our commission and that winning feeling, when successful, usually coupled with the sinking feeling we often experience with the highs and lows of our industry.
Nothing makes me feel more my age than when the words ‘the youth of today’ escape my lips. Generally, I still like to imagine I’m not that far-gone from being one myself but what usually follows is a rant about a lack of basic work ethics and a piss-poor attitude to most things that don’t involve some form of social media, selfies or new-found emoji. Again the education system seems poorly equipped to tackle head-on the behavioural issues of our younger generation. Now while I won’t stereotype all kids as the same, we do seem to be breeding an entire generation of self-entitled, brat-like, kids who lack any of the morals, values, behaviours and attitudes required to meet basic business expectations. Punctuality and time keeping are usually big issues along with honesty and dependability. Surely if we can’t teach our kids to get up out of their pits and arrive to school on time, what hope do we have when we’re hiring them in years to come?
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on where you feel the education system is failing our next generation and what shake-ups you’d implement to tackle the issues our hiring managers are facing today. And if by chance you’re a teen reading this, then I’m sorry, the world isn’t fixed with pretty rose-tinted filter and there are no prizes for last place. It’s not that we don’t care or lack empathy, it’s that we’re all here working damned hard to achieve what we set out to, and the sooner school system begins to echo this ethos the better.