UK School Leavers lack skills compared to rest of Europe

  • Emma Finamore
  • 06 Jul 2015

They’re almost twice as likely to lack functional skills, basic literacy and numeracy. Oh dear.


British companies are struggling to find skilled candidates for junior roles, according to a survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

The poll of 1,700 professionals across the UK and Europe, found a third of firms take more than two months to fill junior roles. Even after hiring, three-quarters of UK school leavers require significant training, a third higher than in Europe.

The research highlighted how a lack of essential skills in new hires is actually having an impact on the overall performance of firms. More than 90% of UK respondents said their workload had increased as a result of skills shortages, with almost half (46%) agreeing it had caused a fall in departmental performance.

The research identified a stark contrast between the capabilities of UK and European school leavers. While respondents from both sides of the channel reported a lack of technical skills, UK candidates were found to be almost twice as likely to lack functional skills, basic literacy and numeracy, than their European peers. 40% of UK firms felt candidates lacked such capabilities, compared with less than a fifth (18%) of those in mainland Europe.

Noel Tagoe, executive director of CIMA Education said: “That so many are leaving the school gates so ill-equipped for the world of work fails British business and more importantly it fails the candidates.

“If the UK is going to continue to prosper as a service economy we must maintain our skills base. As a nation our physical assets are limited, but our intangible assets embodied in the skills and creativity of our workforce are limitless.”

It’s not all bad news though. UK graduates were found to require less training than their European counterparts - just 39% of UK graduates required significant training compared to 43% of those in Europe. And just a sixth (15%) of UK graduates were found to be lacking in functional skills compared to a fifth (19%) in mainland Europe.

Traineeships are a great way for school leavers to improve on their GCSE English and Maths grades if they fall below the national standards, and getting them ready for apprenticeships or further education, or the world of work. 


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