Is it true that two thirds of businesses in 2012 complained about school leavers’ basic literacy, numeracy and computer skills?

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“Last year, the CBI reported that two thirds of businesses were complaining that too many school leavers were struggling with basic literacy and numeracy and were unable to use a computer properly. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is unacceptable to ask our employers to set up remedial classes in these most core basic skills?” said Jonathan Lord, MP for Woking, on 22 April 2013, at Education Questions.

But are his figures correct?

The 2012 CBI report found the number of businesses expressing dissatisfaction with the standard of literacy among school and college leavers was 35%. 30% were not satisfied with numeracy. The CBI gave no data for dissatisfaction with school leavers’ IT skills although it did find that 66% of employers were not satisfied with the IT skills of their existing employees.

CONCLUSION: It’s inaccurate to say that two-thirds (66%) of employers are not satisfied with the literacy, numeracy and IT skills of the school leavers they employ.

But what about the number of employers who set up remedial classes for school and college leavers? Do 66% of them provide remedial classes?

The CBI said that 42% of employers reported that they organized some kind of remedial training for some school/college leavers. This is broken down as follows (some employers provided remedial training in more than one area):

18% of employers provided remedial training in numeracy.

20% provided training in literacy.

23% provided remedial training in IT.

What we don’t know is what form this remedial training took. Was it on-the-job or day-release at a college? Was it really “remedial” or was it because the employer wanted to improve a school leaver’s skills not just correct a deficit? Was it part of progression such as raising a school leaver’s skills from Level 1 to Level 2?

CONCLUSION: It’s misleading to imply that two-thirds of employers provide remedial classes.

26 April 2013