Employers wishing to recruit school leavers have scored them below par for basic literacy and the use of English language in a recent survey.
They were also unhappy with school leavers’ problem solving, team work and communication skills.
The findings are from a survey asking employers about their level of satisfaction with the skills of school leavers and graduates of tertiary institutions. The survey was conducted by the Employers and Manufacturers Association. *
“While many young people they wish to recruit are up to their expectations, employers have expressed serious concerns across several areas,” said Kim Campbell, EMA’s chief executive.
“Employers are unhappy with school leavers’ literacy, communication and problem solving skills but pleased with their technology know how, self-management skills and capacity to learn,” Mr Campbell said.
“Technology for both school leavers and graduates topped the class.
“Overall, employers indicated the technology skills of school leavers met their expectations; 44 per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the standard.
“For tertiary graduates approval levels were higher with 67 per cent of employers saying they were impressed by their technology skills and a further 29 per cent neutral; just three per cent were dissatisfied.
“Clearly business thinks our universities and technical institutes are doing a good job in the teaching of technology, and also for basic literacy,” Mr Campbell said.
“Half the businesses participating in the survey reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with the basic literacy levels of tertiary graduates, with a further 39 per cent neutral.
“Overall employers tended to rate the skill levels of tertiary graduates higher than those of secondary schools.
“Other areas where school leavers scored well with employers included self management and planning, and their capacity to learn.
“EMA recently proposed Work Readiness Certificates be issued to school leavers to help with employer expectations, and we have promoted careers education and workplace literacy and numeracy over many years.
“EMA’s work in the education area includes:
• The Learning Auckland Accord linking community education programmes
• Career Capable Auckland to improve students’ transition from school to the workplace
• Workbase which aims to boost workplace literacy
• The Youth Employability Passport/Leaving Certificate with the Ministry of Education, MBIE, Auckland Council and others
• Young Enterprise Scheme
• NZQA to help prepare of a new guide for employers on NCEA
• ‘Engineer for a Day’ introducing students to business.”
Other points from the survey:
• Firms are evenly split on whether they expect business conditions this year to improve or stay the same – 45 per cent for an improvement and 47 per cent for about the same.
• 58 per cent expect their own businesses to grow.
• Over half, 54 per cent, are finding it difficult to recruit the skilled people they need with a further 29 per cent neutral.
• Employers are very aware of the cost and loss of productivity from poor workplace literacy and numeracy. They reported most cost was due to the poor completion of workplace documents and reports.
• Two thirds of the businesses polled said they use the 90 day employment trial periods, with virtually all of these saying the 90 day trials meant they hired someone whereas without it they would have left the position vacant or re-advertised.
• Only 10 per cent of businesses report using the Starting Out Wage.
• Most businesses said they are unaffected by the recent amendments to the Employment Relations Act – 9 per cent are affected significantly, or a lot, by changes to collective bargaining; 12 per cent by the law change allowing requests for flexible work arrangements from all staff; and 10 per cent by the increased flexibility to apply to rest and meal breaks.
• 80 per cent feel they have some grasp of what the changes coming to workplace health and safety will require.