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4 minute read

Half of young people not prepared for world of work

Almost half (49%) of young people (aged 17-23) believe that their education has not prepared them for the world of work, according to a new CBI survey, alongside Accenture and Hays.

Meanwhile, close to a quarter (23%) of Generation Z believe a ‘lack of opportunities in my area’ is the biggest obstacle to success, showing just how vital it is to ‘turn warm words into real action’ on the Government’s Industrial Strategy, so that prosperity is better shared in all parts of the country.

The survey had more than 1000 respondents between the ages of 17 and 23 – and was powered by YouGov. Business success and supporting young people to meet their career aspirations, are inextricably linked. The CBI strongly believes that the earlier the interaction between business and students – whether that’s work experience, internships or school visits – the more likely the individual feels prepared for work. Over half (55%) of respondents have undertaken a work placement when at school or college and more than one-fifth (22%) had visits from businesses to their school. Young people rightly expect business to step up to support them in their career aspirations.

Almost half (49%) of young people (aged 17-23) believe that their education has not prepared them for the world of work, according to a new CBI survey / Picture: Getty/iStock


John Allan, CBI President, said: “At best, social mobility is at a standstill in this country which is a challenge to Parliament, business and wider society. It’s disturbing to find that around half of young people feel their education has not prepared them for the world of work, at a time of great economic uncertainty and technological change. Teachers, schools and colleges deserve better support and business must play its part.

“Many young people fear buying a house will forever be out of reach, believe the prospects of a well-funded pension are dwindling and simply don’t see enough good jobs in their area. All of this, just as they try to make their first tentative career steps.

“It’s clear that the UK’s glaring regional inequality is a big factor as to how Generation Z view their future prospects. If it goes unchecked, we will fail to spark the talent of the future. The Government’s Industrial Strategy launch was almost one year ago, and while progress has been made in parts it’s clear that further impetus is needed. It’s time to turn warm words on Industrial Strategy into real action across our regions to super-charge local economies.

“While young people are often tarred with being so very different to previous generations, actually they just want what many of us do: a work-life balance, fair pay and a few steady and rewarding jobs through their career.”

Peter Lacy, senior managing director and Accenture Strategy UK lead, added: “We need to equip young people for tomorrow’s workplace as well as today’s. New technology is in the process of shaking up the labour market like never before and young people, who have grown up as digital natives, are primed to adapt quickly to these changes. Business has a huge opportunity to harness this youthful energy and enthusiasm which will help fuel competitiveness, but they must provide better access to the workplace as well as opportunities to learn new skills.”

Simon Winfield, Managing Director of Hays UK & Ireland, said: “Businesses need to step in to help bridge the gap between education and the world of work. As employers continue to face challenges in finding the right talent, we want to excite the next generation about the opportunities available to them.

“Respondents tell us that they are intrigued and optimistic about new technologies and how they might affect their future career. Employers should take advantage of this as many invest in technology to improve efficiencies and processes and engage the younger generation to support this. As an employer, demonstrating that you are willing to support the next generation whilst they are still in education will pay dividends in attracting the next generation of talent.”

What the CBI ‘Generation Z’ survey highlighted

What do young people want from work?

Young people place work-life balance (32%) and work culture (14%) alongside length of commute and job security (both 12%) as the most important factors when choosing a company to work for.

What have young people done to help their career?

Work experience (55%), part-time or full-time job in another industry (37%), visits from businesses to schools (22%) and internships – either paid or unpaid (18%).

What are the main obstacles for you in progress in your future career?

Lack of opportunities in their area (23%), lack of opportunities in the sector they are interested in (21%), lower salary than expected (19%) and lack of clear route in for young people (18%).

How do young people feel about the impact of new technologies (e.g. AI, automation) on their future career?

When asked to select up to three words that describe how they feel about the impact of new technologies on their future career, it’s most common for Generation Z to feel intrigued (44%). Whilst a quarter (26%) feel optimistic, a similar proportion (25%) feel worried.

What source of information has been most influential in helping young people decide on a career?

Friends/family (29%), work experience (28%), school/teachers (20%), career fairs (17%) and the media (17%). Nearly a quarter (23%) do not know.

What external macro-factors do young people believe will affect them?

Brexit (27%), UK economic performance (26%), opportunities in their local area (26%) and new technology (24%).

How much longer do young people want to stay with their current employer?

Up to a year (39%), up to 5 years (38%), more than 5 years (6%), I wouldn’t want to leave (17%).

How many jobs do you expect to hold in your lifetime?

1-2 jobs (9%), 3-5 jobs (36%), 6-10 jobs (20%), more than 10 jobs (9%).