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What is the role of business in education?

The economy is growing again, yet there are enough unemployed young people in the UK to fill Wembley stadium more than eight times over. Seeking answers, the public debate has pointed the finger in many directions – from what and how young people are taught in schools to employers not offering the right opportunities. In fact, it’s often suggested that business criticises from the side-lines, bemoaning young people’s lack of skills, when they should be doing more to help young people get in and get on in work.

But recent research conducted by the CBI and Pearson suggests that business does invest in our school and college system, with 8 in 10 businesses reporting links of some kind with at least one school or college. The research also showed that businesses work with schools and colleges in a range of different ways, including things like providing work experience (77%) and careers talks (67%), but also more strategic links as well for example, supporting employees in acting as governors (32%) and sponsoring academies (15%).

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With many businesses also concerned that they will not be able to attract and retain the employees they need in the future – particularly those with high-level skills and in important sectors such as manufacturing and engineering – it’s clear that business and education need to work much more closely together if we’re going to solve these problems.

How to make that happen is the subject of much discussion. As part of its ongoing schools campaign, the CBI is working with its members, government and education leaders to identify and help tackle barriers to schools and businesses working together. You can read the full survey here.


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