March 27 Letters: Students need support to be prepared for the workplace

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From: Darryl Gould, Senior Consultant, Employability Matters, Wakefield.

I READ with interest your article “Skills gap a growing concern for firms in the UK” (The Yorkshire Post, March 21), and in particular the comment by the BBC’s Steph McGovern.

She says she was shocked to encounter a group of 16-year-olds who didn’t know how to shake hands, or youngsters who didn’t know how to act in a business setting. Many parents with 15/16-year-olds are helping them face the traumas and excitement of their GCSEs. Many parents nowadays look to help their children pass the exams and prepare for the important next steps by paying for extra tuition to help them pass and “compete” with their peers, be it for college places or for entry into work.

It has become noticeable that parents are now also looking to help their children into the job market in a similar manner, by paying for tuition or group lessons for their children on the subject of employability, the learning of simple business skills and interpersonal skills, which will help them get the job they want. So, like the GCSE student brushing up with extra school work, the potential work entrant is now brushing up on core employability skills such as 
how to write a CV, how to search for the ideal job using social media, how to shake hands, survive at work, talk to work colleagues, respect co-workers and management members and in fact generally learn how to react with “real” people. So should these soft and hard employability skills be taught in schools as businesses? Well, many universities and colleges already help their students by calling on the help of outside employability experts; so I think the answer should be yes. As students face a whole new challenge where they can’t simply Google in nine seconds flat to find the answers, they need help and guidance.

From: Mr B Wademan, Carleton Park, Skipton.

REGARDING the excellent article by David Davis on wrecked grammar schools (The Yorkshire Post, March 21), the entrance to grammar schools in Mexborough, West Riding, did not rest on one exam at 11 years of age. At the age of 13 we had the chance again with a transfer examination, reducing the time leading to the School Certificate to three years instead of five. One could then choose grammar or technical.

I chose grammar and went on to teacher training at Chester, then Southampton University, finally retiring after 12 years as a headmaster.