Scotland business

Young 'lack soft skills' for work

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Image caption Figures released last week showed there were 103,000 16 to 24-year-olds out of work in Scotland

A "yawning gulf" has opened up between the education system and the labour market, according to a business lobby group.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said more needed to be done to promote interaction between education authorities and employers.

They argued this would ensure that young people entering the workplace had the soft skills they required.

The FSB presented its arguments to Holyrood's education committee.

Mary Goodman, senior policy adviser with the FSB, said the national Employer Skills Survey had consistently backed anecdotal evidence about a lack of so-called "soft skills" - such as communication and team building - among young people starting work.

Her comments came as the committee took evidence on the Scottish government's youth employment strategy.

Unemployment figures published last week showed about 103,000 16 to 24-year-olds were out of work in Scotland.

'Extremely sceptical'

Earlier, STUC assistant secretary Stephen Boyd had told the committee the trade union body was "extremely sceptical of some of these stories we hear about the poor quality of soft skills".

He said: "I think the extent of this problem is exaggerated.

"I have been in this post now for eight years at the STUC and I have heard this has been a constant over that eight years, that soft skills amongst our young people are not up to scratch. Yet the evidence remains anecdotal."

Appearing later before the committee, Ms Goodman said: "I think one of the reasons why we have this stand-off here is because of the yawning gulf between education and employment at the moment.

"Each is peering round a closed door at the other and pointing fingers, and I think there is probably an element of truth on both sides, let's face it. I definitely think there needs to be more interaction."

Ms Goodman said more employer involvement in schools would be useful, while the Curriculum for Excellence, currently being rolled out across Scotland, would also help to embed soft skills in young people.

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