The employability of young people continues to be a major focus for a large number of companies - and a major concern.

Definitions of employability can vary, depending on whether someone is an employer, employee, a young person preparing for the world of work or a job seeker. Perhaps too, for the long term unemployed and homeless for example, any definition may have a hollow ring. A standard definition is maybe the following: 'The possession by an individual of the qualities and competences required to meet the needs of employers and customers and thereby help realise his or her aspirations and potential at work.'

Behind the notion therefore are the acquisition and renewal of knowledge, skills and capabilities by individuals. What must be also present, however, are the opportunities and motivation to learn and the confidence that this learning will lead to earning.

Business in the Community is currently surveying a number of member companies on a range of employability issues and concerns are being expressed, not so much about technical or job specific skills, but about the continued lack of the softer interpersonal and communications skills in many new recruits and interviewees.

This is not a new story exactly, but a worry that, not withstanding the programmes and interventions of the last twenty years, these messages are still coming from companies. Business, the workplace, life at work - wherever work is - and the skills and attitudes required continue to change and there is much work to be done.

Business therefore needs to engage in a continuing dialogue with government and education to articulate these concerns and also offer to play its part in finding solutions. This must however be an equal partnership.

These issues will be discussed in more detail during the course of Business in the Community's 20th Anniversary conference on 10th and 11th July.

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