Bridging ‘the gap’ between what students learn and reality of the workplace

Lee Pryor

Employers and business leaders are continually talking about “the gap” between what students learn in college and the reality in a job setting. It’s a conversation that Lee Pryor has heard many times.

Leeds City College’s head of business engagement and employer relations, said such talk is centred on the so-called ‘soft skills’.

He added: “Requests for soft skills such as communication, time management and critical thinking, have become a guaranteed feature of contemporary job adverts, meaning that employers are very big on this.

“A good candidate matches these soft skills to the specific work and education experiences they possess. Simultaneously, soft skills provide a commonly understood set of criteria for businesses attempting to screen similarly qualified candidates.”

He said: “Young workers need intensive skills acquisition plus full socialisation into work; a broad range of skills – communication, codes of behaviour, among others.

“These are best acquired through ‘classical apprenticeships’ including relatively long-term immersion in work, delivering deep foundational knowledge, skills and understanding.”

Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP)  holds regular conversations with business looking at ways to address the skills gap where it exists in order to drive productivity and growth.

And part of its skills drive includes giving young people the opportunity to find out about the world of work.

It is working to ensure every young person has “at least one employer encounter each year they are in secondary school.”

To that end the LEP also looks to connect senior leaders in business and education.

The aim is to ensure young people understand the opportunities available in the labour market and are well-prepared to make the most of them. The target is to link every young person to an employer by 2020.