UK entry-level candidates way behind European counterparts for basic skills

Financial bosses lament lack of basic skills among school-leavers.

UK Candidates for entry-level roles are twice as likely to lack basic numeracy and literary skills than those from other parts of Europe, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

The survey of 1,700 finance professionals suggests 75% believe school-leavers lack essential job skills. Subsequently around one-third (31%) take up to two months to fill many junior roles in their businesses.

Around half (46%) of those polled said a lack of skills among junior staff has significantly impacted departmental performance.

A combination of longer recruitment processes and poor performance has seen senior individuals’ workloads’ increase in nine out of ten cases.

The problem is particularly pronounced in the UK. Here 40% of firms are likely to see candidates straight from school who lack even basic numeracy and literary skills necessary to succeed at work. On the continent that figure is only 18%.

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The same pattern exists when looking at the contrast between UK and continental apprentices.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of UK apprentices are seen to lack necessary technical skills – compared to just 37% of those from other parts of Europe.

Noel Tagoe, executive director of CIMA Education, said both British businesses and candidates are being failed by the fact that so many are “leaving the school gates so ill-equipped for the world of work”

“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,” he continued.

Tagoe also highlighted the lack of cooperation between those in the education sector and business, claiming that the “divide between employers and educators remains vast”.

“[This raises] the cost burden on British firms and holds back the productivity of the workforce,” he added.

“The realities of the workplace must be better reflected in the classroom through discussion and practical experience.”

Further reading: Using social search to attract talent

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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