Business leaders blame schools for illiteracy

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BUSINESS chiefs have warned that the lack of literacy skills among Yorkshire’s school leavers is one of the reasons the region has the country’s highest level of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Yorkshire has the highest rate of NEETs in England with 133,000 people between the age of 16 to 24 – almost one in five – who have left the education system and are now out of work.

Kenton Robbins, the Institute of Directors’ regional director for Yorkshire warned that part of this figure was down to a lack of literacy skills among job applicants in the region.

He told the Yorkshire Post that businesses regularly reported being unable to find the right quality of candidate locally. Mr Robbins said school leavers should not underestimate the importance of being able to communicate through the written word.

He said: “Businesses are looking for candidates who can represent them properly and very often people will be expected to make first contact with clients on e-mail.”

He also warned that a poor grasp of the written word was often evident in the job application forms and CVs young people in Yorkshire have submitted.

Margaret Wood, the chairman of the Institute of Directors in Yorkshire believes poor reading and writing skills among school leavers is one of the biggest issues facing the region’s economy.

She warned that being able to read and write properly was crucial in a large number of manual jobs as well as office-based work.

Mrs Wood, who set up her own specialist engineering and manufacturing firm ICW Modular Glazing in 1991, said: “It is fundamental. In any workplace you have to be able to communicate through the spoken and written word.

“This is an engineering business and if you cannot understand the instructions you cannot do the job. It is critical. Literacy has to be a focus and I think the figures show we are failing a lot of young people.”