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Bosses blank on key skills

Barely 50 per cent of employers have heard of key skills and only 40 per cent can name any of them, according to research by the Institute for Employment Studies, writes Harvey McGavin.

The report confirms that the concept of key skills - communication, application of number, IT, problem-solving, working with others, and improving own learning and performance - has failed to catch on among industrialists. Employers were confused about the difference between key skills and basic skills and many were unaware that the name had changed from core skills.

The report, Employers' Perceptions of Key Skills, found that despite the confusion over what key skills actually were, most bosses were sympathetic with their aims and believed that the ability to learn, communicate and work in a team were seen as important for successful employment.

However, information technology skills were not highly rated - a quarter of employers said IT was "not at all" or "not very" important.

The report says the lack of familiarity with the concept of key skills is "not really surprising as this initiative is still relatively new. Other studies have found that it takes a long time for developments in the education system to feed through to employers, even those developments that are directly relevant to them".

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