FE news at a glance

Businesses wary of taking on `unprepared' youth

More than three-quarters of businesses feel young people are unprepared for the workplace, according to a new survey. The British Chambers of Commerce's (BCC) annual workforce survey suggests that stronger links must be formed between schools, colleges and businesses. Findings from the survey of almost 3,000 companies show that 88 per cent of businesses believe school-leavers are unprepared for the world of work. Moreover, 76 per cent report a lack of work experience as one of the key reasons why. More than half (57 per cent) also say that young people are lacking basic "soft" skills such as communication and team-working, which are needed for success in the working world. John Longworth, director general of the BCC, said many businesses felt that hiring a young person was a "risky move" because of their lack of experience. "Government and educational institutions must be more focused on equipping young people for the workplace and businesses must be more willing to give them a chance," he said. "In practice, this means introducing business governance into schools, proper careers advice with direct links to business, and measuring the success of schools and universities based on the employment outcomes of pupils."

Rise in school-leavers taking up further study

Thousands more school-leavers are staying in education or training after the age of 16, the government has revealed. New figures show that in June, the number of 16- and 17-year-olds in education or training was 1,033,732, a rise of more than 6,000 on the previous year. The proportion of young people in education and training has also increased in more than two-thirds of local authority areas compared with last year. The statistics reveal that every region in England experienced a rise in the proportion of young people staying on. It comes after figures published over the summer show the number of 16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment and training is at its lowest recorded level.

Wolf to head centre for technical skills research

A new pound;3 million vocational education research centre is to be set up in England to provide world-class research into technical skills and to influence government policy. The centre will become the main body of independent vocational expertise and policy advice. Professor Alison Wolf, author of the landmark Wolf report on vocational education, is to head the board of the new centre as well as assess the bids to run it. The centre will receive funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills of about pound;1 million a year for three years, with a possible extension to five years. Its aim will be to connect UK policymakers with international expertise, research and best practice in boosting skill levels.

National rail college on track for Midlands base

The new National College for High-Speed Rail will have its headquarters in Birmingham and a secondary site in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, the government has announced. The college, which is expected to open in 2017 and will be led by employers from the sector, will provide specialist vocational training to the next generation of engineers working on the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project and beyond. Students will be offered technical training including rail engineering, environmental skills and construction. It is expected that as many as 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities will be created by HS2 and some 25,000 people will be employed during its construction.

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