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Businesses say careers advice leaves young unprepared for work

Businesses in the north have raised concerns about careers advice for young people. Picture by Chris Ison, Press Association
Michael McHugh

BUSINESSES have attacked the quality of careers advice for young people in Northern Ireland, saying it leaves graduates and school leavers unprepared for the world of work.

They highlighted problems such as shortcomings in self-management and resilience, work experience and business and customer awareness.

A total of 234 firms in the country took park in a UK-wide survey by Pearson College London.

Many businesses reported worrying weaknesses in graduates' general readiness for employment.

The study said half were not satisfied with graduates' levels of business and customer awareness and 40 per cent reported a lack of relevant work experience.

Businesses in Northern Ireland overwhelmingly believed the quality of careers advice young people received was not good enough to help them make informed decisions about future career options.

They looked foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace.

Around 91 per cent of employers valued these attributes above degree subject or university attended.

Demand for higher-level skills in Northern Ireland industry was growing, the survey found.

However, almost three-quarters of businesses that provided high-skilled jobs were not confident there will be sufficient skilled people available in the future to meet their needs.

Almost a third of businesses increased graduate recruitment in the last year, above the UK average and an increase on the previous year, according to the new analysis of the 2016 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey.

College principal Roxanne Stockwell said: "While there are encouraging signs of growth in graduate recruitment and the demand for higher-level skills in Northern Ireland, it is worrying that firms are finding that many graduates they recruit aren't properly prepared for the world of work".

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