More than a quarter (28%) of employers provided training in at least one basic skill for “some young people joining from school or college”, said the CBI
But is this figure correct? Here’s the data:
22% provided literacy training
19% provided numeracy training
13% provided IT training
It would be more correct to say “less than a quarter of employers provided basic skill training for school/college leavers”. And we don’t know what is meant by “some young people”.
If an employer hires ten young people and provides training for two of them, is this a sign that schools are failing? And if the employer does indeed have to provide training for, say, nine, is this more a sign of poor recruitment?
At least the CBI hasn’t made the same mistake that politicians sometimes make. It didn’t add up the three figures and say “54% of employers provide basic skills training to school/college leavers”.
But any MP doing this is showing a lack of basic numerical skills. Let me explain:
If 22% offered literacy training, 78% did not. If 19% provided numeracy training, 81% did not. If 13% gave IT training, 87% did not.
If we use the same logic and add up the three figures, we see that 246% of employers did NOT provide training in at least one basic skill. That is, of course, impossible.
But how many employers were satisfied with school/college leavers’ basic skills? Findings included*
96% satisfied with IT skills
67% happy with attitude to work
64% satisfied with technical skills
64% with team working
62% with basic literacy
50% with basic numeracy
50% with problem solving.
We don’t know, of course, how each employer defined “basic” literacy and numeracy. The CBI thinks it knows. It complains about the proportion of GCSE candidates who didn’t achieve a C in English or Maths. But Grade C is NOT a sign of basic competence. Grades D-G demonstrate basic expertise as the Office for National Statistics makes clear
The CBI has at last stopped using the discredited OECD PISA test results for the UK in 2000. Instead it uses PISA data from 2006 to say the UK has “stagnated”. But the CBI didn’t say the UK still scores above the OECD average in Science and the country’s league table position for Reading and Maths rose slightly in 2012. Neither did the CBI mention international test results (TIMSS, PIRLS) that give a more positive picture of the performance of English pupils.
Despite my quibbles with the data, the CBI has important points to make. Careers guidance in schools is NOT “fit for purpose”. An “undue emphasis on GCSE grades (or equivalent) and school league tables” DOES divert attention** from skills such as problem solving and teamwork. Employers ARE confused by the fragmentation of qualifications, their content and value.
The CBI says it wants young people to be “rigorous, rounded and grounded”. But offering a rounded education does not mean, as the CBI suggests, ensuring the content of qualifications is more relevant to business needs. It’s more important they are relevant to the needs of the child.
*For all findings see Exhibit 43 on page 49 of the report.
has decided to stop using 5 GCSEs C or above (including Maths and English) as a school performance measure . It’s introducing a “capped points” system instead from 2017. A Plaid Cymru education spokesman Simon Thomas said the move was an admission by the Welsh Education Minister, Huw Lewis, that the school banding system based on the A*-C benchmark had "perverse incentives". But Thomas said, “Rather than constantly tweaking the banding system to get the outcomes he seeks, the Minister should abandon it all together."