BBC business expert blames the parents, as CGMA conference hears of brighter recruitment picture
Britain’s economic recovery will be stymied by a lack of skills among young people, according to BBC economics editor Robert Peston – who said parents should share the blame with policymakers for a looming crisis.
“We disproportionately rely on the skills of the older generation,” the BBC presenter and author told the CGMA European Conference, organised by accountancy membership organisation CIMA. He drew unflattering comparisons with Korea and Scandinavian countries as he told delegates: “Our young people are leaving school with marginally lower levels of basic skills than people of my generation. But at some point I’ll want them to earn enough to pay my pension… it’s not good enough to have an economic recovery reliant on the skills of older people.”
Peston said fast-growing economies prioritised language and maths skills at a national level, and saw strong parental involvement in education: “But here, for many people, you pack your kids off to school and forget about them. Parents have to be much more engaged.”
CIMA is involved in a tie-up with the CIPD to explore human capital metrics, and many of the themes of the CIPD’s Learning to Work campaign, which encourages greater involvement of young people in the workforce. These topics were hotly debated at the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountants) event.
A session run by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) saw positive news on hiring, but a number of worries around helping young recruits integrate into organisations.
“We need to help young people develop the social skills needed inside organisations,” said Tom Hadley, REC’s director of policy and professional services, who feared they would “fall off a cliff” or become disengaged if they weren’t supported in their first months and years in work. Younger staff without social mores need to be taught how organisations work, how to listen and how to engage with senior employees, he argued.
REC is predicting a “war for talent” in many sectors, and reports enhanced demand for senior roles, as well as right across the education, engineering, construction and IT sectors. Hadley said employers were seeing the sort of counter-offers and wage bargaining among high-fliers that hadn’t been reported since before recession, with retirees increasingly returning on temporary contract to plug skills gaps. But though he said smart organisations were talking up their flexible working policy and recognizing different attitudes to work among younger candidates, too many HR departments were still failing to ensure line mangers are trained before they begin recruiting: “That is an incredibly costly mistake.”
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