Working values

EMPLOYERS have never been less than critical of schools' success in bringing them the fodder they need to run their enterprises. No matter what schools do or how far they improve, the business world will be critical, much as they are of any Labour Chancellor. No one ever does enough. And maybe they don't.

Reports from the CBI Scotland this week suggest employers are still unhappy with the products of the school system. Too much emphasis on paper qualifications and not enough on young people's employability, positive attitudes and values. As ever, core skills could be better. This is nothing new, as our January 4 edition revealed. Thirty years ago in 1970, industry bosses were slamming schools for failing to prepare young people for their first jobs. English was poor and maths no better. In January this year, blame was still in the air as employers in Aberdeen said they were struggling to fill vacancies because the raw material they have to work with is still "a little too raw". Plus ca change.

We have also had the Institute of Directors recently singing the same refrain that low skills in the workforce are the result of falling education standards. The real point, of course, is that the better qualified are opting for higher education.

What surely matters is that employers continue to upgrade the basic skills of their workforce. They cannot expect governments both to create more diversity and choice in education, and at the same time limit these choices in order to channel young people into jobs deemed suitable for them by Britain's bosses.

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