London employers raise concerns over access to high-level skills

Pearson College London calls for higher education and businesses to work more closely together

Three quarters (77 per cent) of London businesses expect their need for high-level skills to increase in the next three to five years, but over half (53 per cent) are concerned that they will be unable to recruit sufficiently skilled candidates, according to regional analysis of the 2017 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey by Pearson College London.

The survey of 186 companies in the Capital shows the continued importance of graduates to the London economy, but highlights that more needs to be done to ensure businesses have access to the skills they need in future.  

Opinions of graduates

Most businesses give a positive evaluation of graduate applicants’ basic skills and general readiness for employment. Three quarters of businesses (78 per cent) were satisfied with graduates’ communication skills and even more satisfied with their teamworking skills (78 per cent) and positive attitude to work (81 per cent).

However, the report also found that 38 per cent of employers are not satisfied with their graduate hires’ business and customer awareness, while 28 per cent are dissatisfied with their attitudes, behaviours and resilience in the workplace.

27 per cent of employers were also dissatisfied with the amount of practical work experience their graduate recruits had attained prior to joining their firm.

Opinions on practical careers advice

Careers advice and guidance given to young people was judged as overwhelmingly poor; 87 per cent said that the quality of advice was not good enough.

76 per cent of employers would also be prepared to play a greater role in supporting schools and colleges in improving careers advice.

Priorities when hiring graduates

The survey found that businesses look first and foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace - 91 per cent of employers value these about factors such as degree subject (55 per cent) and university attended (14 per cent).

Apprenticeships

The survey, compiled before the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April, found that 86 per cent of businesses are now participating in apprenticeship schemes. However, 44 per cent of businesses are experiencing some form of difficulty in recruiting individuals for apprenticeships.

Commenting, Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson College London, said: “The London economy’s continued demand for high-level skills is welcome news - laying strong foundations for future economic growth.

“However, the fact that businesses fear that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill these roles, should be a wake-up call for universities and higher education organisations.

“There is clearly potential for the higher education sector and businesses to work more closely together and deliver degrees that are designed and delivered in partnership with the world of work in mind.”

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