Consider these headline screamers - Unemployment levels risen from 8.3% to 8.4%! Youth unemployment hits an all time high! Over 2.7 million people unemployed in the UK' and so on.

And yet some of UK's largest employers state that they are unable to employ people with appropriate skills in the UK and almost always have to resort to foreign universities for example to seek out appropriate talent. 

According to Keith Anderson, Corporate Officer from Scottish Power, there is a massive dearth of skills and qualified people in the energy sector, with the result that they have to resort of employing skills from abroad! Miles Bollough of Aardman Animation says that the standard of a graduate is declining very sharply and that they also have to resort often to French and German universities to employ their skills. 

I have seen people struggle to complete questions on the on-line assessment tests that energy companies expects all new applicants to complete. These are usually timed questions that require a basic understanding of mathematical principles, unit conversions, applications of fundamentals and an ability to work things out mentally. The questions should be easily tackled by candidate with average GCSE credits, but most feel threatened by these tests and fail them.

The problem I believe stems from schools who for some reason are diffident about pushing their students to think faster and harder. For example, times tables, which ought to be stored in the memory by about Year 4, are still worked out by counting on their fingers well into Year 6. I have seen students use methods for basic arithmetic calculations that do nothing to wean them away from their dependence on working into the realm of mental calculations. With the result that by the time many are still struggling with their basics when they get to secondary education and rapidly fall off the Maths spectrum as their years progress.

In Universities on the other hand, there is a massive push for recruitment. However students are being programmed for academic qualifications rather than employability. 

I believe that the following would help make students from the UK more employable:

1  Introduce a Maths Club as an after-school activity which enables children to participate in fun games and activities that reinforce the essence of essential/simple mental arithmetic

2  Have lecturers in schools experience a day at work in a relevant work sector that applies their subject of interest in a work environment.

3  For adult learners, introduce sector based learning that aims to examine the expectations of the sector and address barriers to accessing the sector on an individual basis. The involvement of employers in this aspect is very important as also of retired skilled professionals in the sector. 

4  Grass root organisations and Work Clubs can play a massive role in addressing this mismatch between jobs and skills by bringing together opportunities and resources in a community environment. Organisations must consider investing in such grass-root ventures that will enable mismatch fixes for those who have fallen off the spectrum.

What do you think needs to be done to address this mismatch? Your comments are welcome.



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