Analysis: Unfit for the workplace? Yes

SCOTLAND is the highest-qualified part of the UK outside London, but businesses still find too many vacancies hard to fill. Official figures show nearly half of the employers struggling to fill jobs cite insufficient quality of applicants as the sole reason.

On top of that, too many people seem to leave school, college or university without the basic “soft” skills – how you speak to customers, work with colleagues, make a sale, or take part in a meeting – on which the world of work is built. Indeed, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) members highlight customer service, sales and marketing and communication skills as their top three training needs.

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Moves to develop soft skills in our student population have, of course, been afoot for years, and this is all most positive. But until young people understand the context for their use, having the skills will be of no consequence. We therefore need to bridge the gulf between the education system and the world of work.

If we let our young people leave the education system with a clutch of certificates, but bereft of the real skills they’re going to need to stand a chance in today’s competitive job market, we will have failed them.

• Colin Borland is head of external affairs for the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland.