Young People Rate Skills Over Degree

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Young people in the UK consider that communication and people skills are more important than academic ability in the workplace, and that practical training, rather than academic learning is the best route to becoming an entrepreneur.

These findings came from a survey of 18-to-25-year-olds, carried out for educational foundation, Edge, by Morar Consulting.

The survey showed that gaining work experience is seen as the biggest barrier to attaining desired careers, and that lack of practical experience whilst learning is also a barrier.

Those wishing to become entrepreneurs said that practical training was the most appropriate way to succeed in business. This career was the most popular choice for young people in the survey.

The survey also asked which jobs are considered new and fashionable; examples given as aside from being an entrepreneur included website design, fashion design and IT, all of which require on-the-job training. Being a politician was considered the least fashionable job, not one of the 2,221 respondents considered this job fashionable.

With regard to careers advice, parents were considered the best advisers. 66% of respondents said that they were encouraged to go to university, with only 26% being advised to take up practical and vocational courses,. The most widely criticised advice was: ‘One has to go to a university to get a good job’.

The results match those from a survey commissioned by Edge during 2005 on the attitudes of employers to practical learning. This showed that three quarters of employers surveyed regarded work placements, internships and work experience as an essential factor when looking to recruit candidates and that four out of five employers believe that the responsibility lies with schools to place more emphasis on teaching the literacy, numeracy and practical skills young people need for work.

Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said: “The results of this survey demonstrate how worried young people are about their chances of getting the jobs they want, mainly because the education and training offered to them does not prepare them for the workplace, let alone the specific roles that they are aiming for. So many qualifications are mislabelled, particularly degrees, and look as though they will lead to great careers whereas in reality they are theoretical, classroom-based courses that offer little value to students or their potential employers.

“We want to see an education system that provides every young person with more opportunity to ‘learn by doing’, a better idea of what will be required of them in the workplace, careers advice that is not just focused on academic achievement for its own sake, and qualifications that ‘do what they say on the tin’.”

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