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Workplace skills now more important than exam results in post-Covid jobs market say teachers

  • 74% of teachers say employability skills are now the most important way to improve pupils’ career prospects, compared to 62% who say good academic grades are
  • 49% fear a lack of jobs for young people and damage to their career prospects as result of pandemic

 

Teachers now think workplace skills have a higher value than academic qualifications in preparing school and college leavers for the post-Covid world of work, a major survey has revealed.

Almost three-quarters - 74% - of teachers say skills like teamwork and public speaking will equip pupils to secure a good job in these uncertain economic times. 

Just 62% say the same about good academic qualifications.

The Teacher Tapp poll for The Careers & Enterprise Company asked almost 5,000 teachers what they thought would best prepare students for the post-pandemic jobs market. 

Almost half - 49% - say they fear there will be far fewer jobs and opportunities for their students in the coming years. 

Nearly all - 98% - say their students have been anxious and uncertain about their future choices since lockdown. Nearly three in five put this down to uncertainty over GCSE and A-level grading.

More than three in five say opportunities for young people to meet a range of employers from different sectors and learn about their jobs will be all the more vital now. 

Teachers also say they are concerned that disadvantaged students will be particularly hard hit and are showing decreasing levels of engagement.

The survey comes as the government has, this morning, pledged to provide 30,000 new traineeships to get young people in England into work amid fears of mounting unemployment. The traineeships provide classroom-based lessons in maths, English and CV writing, as well as up to 90 hours of unpaid work experience.

Latest figures show youth unemployment has doubled in the last two months, rising from 238,100 to 498,300 – the sharpest rise since 1992. This raises fears of deepening disadvantage and long-term damage to the employment and earnings prospects of young people.

 

John Yarham, interim CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company, which prepares and inspires young people for the fast-changing world of work, said:

"We have a strong network in this country that enables schools, colleges and employers to work together to support young people to help them raise their aspirations and develop skills our economy needs. 

"This is needed now more than ever. We know that young people will be disproportionately affected by an economic downturn. The difference that employers make to their career prospects is significant and, despite the challenges faced by all in this difficult time, we are calling on more employers to support young people to prepare for what will be a new world of work. 

"In the past, many teachers have often valued academic qualifications over employability skills. This survey shows that the tide is changing and that skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving and presenting, are of a higher value than in the past.

“While academic qualifications are hugely important, this is a positive step. Teachers recognise that strong careers support will be crucial in helping young people tackle the challenges of the post-Covid jobs market.”

Nick Bowen, Executive Principal, Horizon Community College, Barnsley said:

“The coronavirus lockdown has placed profound pressures on all schools, colleges and students. It has created particular anxieties and uncertainties for students who were about to undertake their GCSEs and A levels and who are undergoing important transitions either to further study or into the world of work.

“I know the Careers Leader and her team in our school have been the busiest staff during this period, providing essential guidance and support to students facing key decisions about their future.”

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found lockdown will hit younger workers the hardest, as they are nearly two-and-a-half times more likely than other employees to work in a sector that is shut down.

A recent poll of 16-24 year olds by the Prince’s Trust also found more than one in four young people believe their future career prospects have been damaged by the pandemic lockdown. Half (49%) say it will be harder than ever to get a job and 46 per cent say finding a job now feels impossible.

In this new employment environment, providing the right support for young people at the right time will be critical.

In June, more than 750 schools and more than 100,000 young people took part in a week of online lessons to replace Year 10 work experience. 

The initiative, created by The Careers & Enterprise Company and Oak National Academy, was available to all schools and was in collaboration with Learn Live. It hosted more than 50 live broadcasts from employers including Microsoft, the NHS, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce.

 

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development said:

“This poll shows teachers recognise employability skills are on a par with academic qualifications in providing a passport for young people to move from education into the workplace, and this is also what we hear increasingly from employers. We are now working together to have a common framework to understand these essential skills.

“The findings highlight how important it is for young people to meet with employers and engage with the world of work. The evidence is clear, the more employers they meet the greater the opportunity and choice they have.

“Ensuring young people continue to have support from and opportunities to connect with employers will be even more critical as we move into what will be an uncertain and challenging post-pandemic employment market.”

Nick Bowen, Executive Principal, Horizon Community College, Barnsley added:

"The support of The Careers & Enterprise Company network and the framework provided by the Gatsby Benchmarks has been a real game changer in careers education. That support will be even more essential in supporting our students rise to the challenges of life beyond lockdown.”

 

The survey in numbers:

What would best support and prepare students for the post-COVID19 jobs market?

74% of teachers say employability skills most important in preparing young people for work

63% say opportunities to meet employers and engage with the world of work are vital

62% say good academic qualifications will be important

42% say the guidance offered by careers advisers and careers leaders in schools will be most important

 

Since the school closures, what are you seeing happening to students during this crisis?

98% report increases in general anxiety and uncertainty about future choices among their students since the beginning of the pandemic lockdown

71% say there has been decreased levels of engagement from disadvantaged students

13% say students have deferred university entry

5% say apprenticeship and employment offers have been withdrawn

 

Your biggest concerns about Y11 and Y13 students preparing for transitions during this crisis?

51% are concerned about the restriction lockdown is placing on their ability to meet face-to-face with their GCSE and A level students and talk them through options and choices

49% fear a lack of jobs for young people and damage to their career prospects as result of pandemic

34% say there is uncertainty over university places