EQUIPPING young people with key skills in literacy, numeracy and communication is key to a successful workforce in Ashfield, say business leaders.
Representatives from the area’s businesses and schools met at Sutton’s Magdalene Centre on Friday to discuss ways to help youngsters into work as part of an event organised by the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce.
The representatives were able to raise concerns with Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero.
During the discussion, which was led by Anne Tipple from the British Chamber of Commerce, business leaders said they wanted to offer training opportunities to young people - but schools and parents must ensure they have the right skills for the world of work.
Elizabeth Allan, who is managing director of consultancy firm, Business Goal Achievers, said: “Firms are happy to take young people on, to train them and develop them and offer them a position - but the biggest problem is that they take people on and they can’t spell, they can’t add up and they do not turn up to work on time.
“We need to get right back to basics in schools and make sure these kids have got the right skills. We need to address it fast before it gets any worse.”
Martin Davies, deputy headteacher at Ashfield School, said he did not recognise that description for the majority of his pupils - but said schools were often constrained by Ofsted inspections.
He said: “Education is being run for Ofsted, not for young people - it’s an absolute disgrace.”
Mr Davies said many of his students were concerned about the Government’s withdrawal of Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which helps those from less well-off backgrounds stay on at school or college.
Darrell West, managing director of the Venture Foundation, an education charity, said there was plenty of potential talent in the district.
He said: “In my personal experience, we have got an uncut diamond situation. We have got very savvy mindsets - they are just working on the wrong side.”
Business leaders also said that more should be done in schools to make people aware of the options they have.
Miss de Piero welcomed the chance for businesses and schools to get together and discuss the situation.
“What I have taken away must be that there needs to be more work experience.
“I was quite interested in what Martin Davies from Ashfield School said about the loss of EMA and how that is going to affect young people.”