Commenting on the report, Jason Wouhra, Chair of IoD West Midlands and Director of East End Foods plc, said: “We recognise the value for such skills. The IoD is working with the University of Wolverhampton to give one-one mentoring to graduates. Academic qualifications have their place but in businesses such as mine which have a high degree of customer interaction, we cannot afford to lose trade to competitors because of, for example, poor customer service and lack of attention to detail.”
Steve Parker, Chair of the Black Country Branch of the FSB, said: “Our members traditionally increase and retain business with high levels of personal service, so having access to young talent with great ‘soft skills’ will be an obvious encouragement for them to employ more.”
Ninder Johal, President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said “We are disappointed that flagship programmes such as apprenticeships do not focus as much on communication and personal leadership as they do on technical skills. A recent survey showed that 87% of Black Country businesses thought that school leavers were unprepared for work. The figures for colleges and universities were 76% and 50%.”
Jason Wouhra added “Businesses in the Black Country and across the West Midlands are engaging with schools, colleges and universities to provide work experience but often this is unsupported and on an ad hoc basis.”
The leaders of the three business organisations emphasised the need for education and training provision to cover a wider curriculum and for a stronger business voice within OFSTED and the Department for Education.