Experienced foreign workers a ‘challenge’ to British jobseekers

Last Updated: 11:27AM BST 17/04/2012

Young British workers face a “huge challenge” from older and more experienced foreign rivals, Employment Minister Chris Grayling has warned.

Chris Grayling said the “deep-rooted problem” meant prospective employees born in the UK were often at a disadvantage when applying for jobs.

Business lobby groups have warned that young people were being failed by an education system that left them unprepared for the world of work.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal the number of British-born workers fell by 208,000 last year. In contrast, the number of foreign-born workers rose by 212,000.

Questioned about these figures, Mr Grayling said those leaving school, college or university “without experience” faced a challenge.

He said: “You’ve got these young people who are up against somebody who may be five or six years older, who has had the get up and go to cross a continent, to come to the UK.

“[They are] up against somebody who has no previous experience and has just left school or college here. And employers are very often giving that older person the chance, rather than that young inexperienced person.”

The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds has hit 1.04 million, although this includes 311,000 in full-time education.

Phil McCabe, of the Forum of Private Business lobby group, said: “Unfortunately, it is a sad indictment of the UK’s education system that it is not producing the right level of work-ready young people.”

He added that the poor attitude of some young workers was one of the reasons many failed to secure jobs.

“They include things such as an unwillingness to do certain tasks deemed to be too menial,” said Mr McCabe. “It is as if some people with a degree think they are too important to start at the bottom.”

A recent poll of some of Britain’s biggest businesses, such as HSBC, Santander and KPMG, found widespread despair with the quality of potential new recruits.

It said many young people arrived for interviews without “vital employability skills” such as a “general can-do” attitude.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Companies need employees with the right mix of skills to grow their businesses.

“For many firms, that means employing non-UK workers. Almost two-thirds of businesses tell us they are unable to find the skilled workers they need in the UK.

“Developing the capability of our future workforce must be a priority. Too many young people have been failed by the education system and left unable to compete with non-UK workers who often have the skills businesses need.”

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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