Tonight investigation: Why isn't Britain working?

Tonight investigation: Why isn't Britain working?
Tonight investigation: Why isn't Britain working? Photo:

More than a third of companies find it very or quite difficult to recruit the right staff, a ITV Tonight survey of over 2,000 companies found.

  • 39% said it was ‘very’ or ‘quite’ difficult to recruit the right staff
  • 27% said they currently had job vacancies they were finding hard to fill
  • 52% of employers said young people in particular, lack the human skills required for the workplace - like eye contact, good manners and punctuality

Employers we spoke to cited a skills-gap, finding that many school leavers aren't equipped for the workplace – lacking ‘soft-skills’ and a good level of numeracy and literacy.

Government figures reveal that 20% of pupils leave school with poor reading and writing skills.

Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb told Tonight that the government is currently reviewing the curriculum for English, Maths and other core subjects. He also said that they plan to introduce phonics training for four and five year olds to help with their reading skills.

Adrian Casey
Adrian Casey

Adrian Casey, Managing Director of Unique Copiers in Telford had 30 roles advertised for his photocopying business eighteen months ago.

He’s managed to fill only thirteen places since then and is still on the look out for seventeen more.

Adrian is willing to provide suitable candidates with training, however is perplexed by the lack of suitable applicants.

Another way to enter the jobs market is via apprenticeships – something the government is keen to push.

Deborah Meaden
Deborah Meaden

Some employers however have struggled to find young people with the right attitude and work ethic to take up these apprenticeships.

Entrepreneur, Deborah Meaden spent over a year looking for three apprentices for her textile mill in Somerset. She said:

I think one of the big issues is that manufacturing isn’t seen as aspirational.

We cannot get a child through school saying ‘academia is the way forward and anything else doesn't matter’ and then tell them at the age of 16 ‘well actually take on an apprenticeship because that is really important.’ We have to start it very early on.

Why Isn’t Britain Working? ITV1 Thursday at 7.30pm

More information on the issues raised in the programme is available here: