If Only: What does it mean to work with schools on skills?

Rachael Saunders, Education Director, Business in the Community, calls on businesses to partner with schools to help children prepare for the skills of the future 

If only I had known how important numeracy and maths was when I was at school.   

My primary school maths teacher told me I would never amount to anything, and I pretty much went on strike during maths lessons during my school career, leaving the GCSE exam hall with great joy. I had no sense at all of what probability or algebra could mean in my future life, and little interest.   

I made my way through the rest of my formal education writing lots of essays – but my allergy to numbers became untenable when my job involved writing reports that required number crunching, and managing budgets.   

I am now, more than 20 years after I left school, studying for a second MSc part time, and last term I broke through my allergy to numbers and passed a statistics exam.   

Not everyone will be lucky enough to get a second chance – and business can make all the difference to young people by supporting teachers and students in the classroom, and showing how skills learnt at school are relevant to the world of work.   

Our If Only campaign, launched this week, also calls on business to use a shared language, so schools, young people and employers can communicate effectively about the skills they have, and the skills they need for the future. SkillsBuilder, a framework created by Enabling Enterprise, is increasingly widely used as the basis for this shared language, setting out what essential skills are, and how they can be taught. We are supporting it, and encourage our members to use it as well, in your education programmes and in recruitment and progression.   

Every business must partner with schools to achieve the step change in skills, productivity and social mobility that the UK needs.