In response to the launch of Ofsted’s Enterprise for all report, which examines how secondary schools are preparing young people for the world of work through enterprise education and work-related learning, Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“This report is yet more evidence that our education system is failing to equip our young people with the skills they need to succeed in the modern economy.
“Regular encounters with employers help enlighten and inspire. Young people who have had good contact with employers while at school are significantly more likely to succeed in the labour market and can expect, when in full-time employment, to earn significantly more than peers who had no such workplace exposure.
“The UK economy is in a period of massive change and stronger relationships between schools and employers will be vital to ensure that the right skills needed by business are developed and delivered. Linking up schools with local businesses will require a cultural shift within the education sector. Ofsted should put less of a focus on exam results in league tables. However, we also need more recognition from teachers and teaching unions on the importance of working with businesses in developing the soft skills and workplace readiness employers desperately need.
“Government must enable, as well as incentivise schools to spend more time engaging with employers as part of a more rounded education, rather than persist with the narrow and often backward-looking curriculum in place today. The increased autonomy now available to school leaders will only work if those in charge of schools work with industry groups and trade bodies to get more business-focussed people involved in school governance. The work done by the IoD, Academy Ambassadors and other organisations, are just some examples of the worthwhile links that must be forged.”