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Youth Literacy and Employability Commission

Skills for Life Network

The Youth Literacy and Employability Commission, led by a group of MPs and Lords, has published a report calling for a deeper partnership between education and business. The report highlights the different definitons of literacy in schools and in the workplace and the need to help young people form employment aspirations.

The report, published on the 12th of December 2013 by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy’s Youth Literacy and Employability Commission, shows that young people feel lost and disengaged from the job market and need urgent support to get the skills they need to enter it. The Commission, led by a group of MPs and Lords, calls for a deeper partnership between business and education, which focuses on growing young people’s literacy skills in order to improve their future employment prospects.

Youth unemployment in the UK is a national priority: a fifth of 18 to 24-year-olds are not in full-time education or employment and average literacy scores are now lower among 16-24 year olds than for all adults aged 16-65 in the UK (OECD, 2013). The Youth Literacy and Employability Commission held an evidence session in September 2013 to look at this crucial issue. Secondary school pupils gave evidence alongside key figures from the business and education sectors. The Commission’s report was researched and written by KPMG and the National Literacy Trust. The report’s key findings include:

  • Schools and businesses need to agree on a shared definition of literacy and a stronger partnership between business and education is needed to ensure school leavers have the communication skills they need to get a job.
  • Employers are increasingly dissatisfied with the literacy levels of school leavers and 15% of employers provide remedial literacy training to school leavers.
  • Literacy in schools is tested by reading and writing assessment, whereas the workplace looks for broader communication skills in an employee, such as good speaking, listening and presentation skills. Despite this, the Government has recently removed the speaking and listening element of the GCSE assessment.
  • Many young people have high aspirations for their future employment, but are unclear as to the skills they need to achieve them.
  • Nearly half of children as young as 10 or 11 (45.1%) are concerned about their future employment options and are unsure of the skills they need to secure the job they want.
  • Compulsory work experience for 14-15 year olds has been recently abolished, yet 87.5% of children felt that work experience was the most important way of gaining the skills they needed to get the job they wanted.

The Commission makes a series of recommendations to Government, aimed at addressing the strong causal link between low literacy and youth unemployment. These include:

  1. Increase the demand from schools for contact with business as an indispensible element in the teaching of literacy skills for the 11 to 14 age group.
  2. Increase the supply of opportunities for young people to work with employees and develop realistic employment aspirations.
  3. Improve brokerage between the business and education sector.

To read the press release in full and to download the report, visit the Literacy Trust website

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