The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has set out a skills and employment manifesto designed to help the country address the skills shortage that could undermine future prosperity.
According to the BCC, the proposals could radically transform the way people are educated and the way our adult workforce is trained. It advocates greater cooperation between the BCC and universities and SMEs to ensure young people receive the appropriate training and acquire skills relevant to the modern jobs market.
Employers consistently report a mismatch between the qualities they are looking for in their staff and the skills, experience and attitude displayed by prospective job candidates. Having the most skilled workforce possible will enable the country to compete in the global race.
Employability skills need to be at the heart of how schools are assessed and rated, according to the BCC. There also needs to be investment in careers education for all young people, including regular contact with different employers.
There need to be literacy, numeracy, computing and foreign languages qualifications which are clear and universally understood. Employers should be able to conduct an accurate appraisal of a candidate based on these qualifications.
Export skills and foreign languages should be encouraged by providing tax incentives and employment policy should be the responsibility of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
In addition, universities should promote enterprise and ensure their courses are relevant to future job opportunities, the body stated.
Nora Senior, president of the BCC, said: "Although we believe that successive governments have failed our young people by not properly equipping them for their future careers, it is time to break away from the blame game. Various organisations and sectors continue to blame each other for a lack of ‘work readiness’ among young people but it is time for everyone to accept some responsibility, and find ways to move forward."
Ms Senior warned that if Britain does not keep up the pace with its competitors in a rapidly-changing world it could lose valuable business. However, she stressed that simple measures such as providing a good careers service can help put the country back on course for a prosperous future.