Let’s work together to ensure that no child is left behind

By Moya Johnston, Chair, Business in the Community and Managing Director, Survitec

Skills are vital to business, key to career success for young people, imperative for social mobility and for tackling poverty. For our young people to build successful working lives, both business and education must take responsibility, and come together for the greater good of our future workforce, and our economy.

Skills are also vital to tackling Northern Ireland’s productivity gap. 34% of young people are leaving school without at least five GCSEs including English and Maths1. Research shows that children who read well by age 11 do better at school, get better exam results, and advance further in the workplace.

STEM, literacy, and numeracy skills are vital to young people’s futures, and the opportunity for them is huge as employers are facing serious skills shortages. The skills deficit in many industry sectors, especially in STEM industries, combined with an over-supply of low skills, is threatening the future growth of the Northern Ireland economy2.

Essential skills, or soft skills, are also vital for success inside and outside of the workplace. A survey3 of 2,097 adults commissioned by Business in the Community (BITC) in the UK found that many people did not learn skills at school that would have been useful in their working lives. Top of the wish list were computing and coding skills (30% of respondents), followed by leadership and teamwork (29%), seeking out opportunities and aiming high (28%), thinking positively (27%) and problem solving (25%).

The issues can only be addressed effectively if we have a joined up approach. The lack of government in Northern Ireland is exacerbating the situation, however, as businesses we must lead, not allowing our workforce of today, or of the future, to become casualties of other people’s inertia.

So, what can you do?

  • Run activities that help young people develop skills through partnering with schools
  • Use a common language on skills so that young people, teachers and employers are working towards the same skills goals
  • Tell others what you are doing to inspire them to get involved and do more too
  • Get in touch with Business in the Community and we’ll help you find the right route for your business

Let’s work together to ensure that no child is left behind.

1 Chief Inspector’s Report 2014 – 2016

2 2017 NI Skills Barometer report

3 2017 If Only report (BITC UK)


For more information on initiatives that can help your business get involved in education, please contact emma.morrison@bitcni.org.uk, call (028) 9046 0606, or visit www.bitcni.org.uk