Last updated: 20.07.15

UK school leavers perform poorly against European peers

British youngsters who leave school come up significantly worse against their European peers in basic literacy and numeracy skills that are vital to securing entry-level business jobs, according to a new survey.The research, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), surveyed 1,700 finance professionals across the UK and Europe, placing a focus on skills shortages for finance teams.It found that it takes 31 per cent of UK firms more than two months to fill junior roles and even once they have been filled, 75 per cent of new employees require a significant amount of training - in comparison to 47.1 per cent of school leavers needing training elsewhere in Europe.Noel Tagoe, executive director of CIMA Education, said: "In the UK the school and the work systems are divorced from each other and this leads to schools not providing the subjects companies need."The survey also revealed that many UK school leavers lack functional skills, as well as the ability to work in a team efficiently and communicate with colleagues.What's more, over 90 per cent of those polled said that the skills shortage had led to an increase in workload, with 46 per cent reporting it to have also affected overall departmental performance.Mr Tagoe added: "The divide between employers and educators remains vast, raising the cost burden on British firms and holding back the productivity of the workforce."The realities of the workplace must be better reflected in the classroom through discussion and practical experience."The report is not the first to display the differences between the UK and Europe. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed that the literacy and numeracy skills of youngsters aged between 16 and 24 are on par with those of their grandparents' generation.The Virtual College Education Division has developed a range of engaging online functional skills resources for maths and English. For more information, please visit: