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Poor communication skills limit students’ employability chances

Talk About Talk Secondary

Do some of your students have poor communication skills? Is your school interested in extending its relationship with employers and the business world to benefit your students’ communication skills?

18 schools in a spread of geographic and demographic areas across England are taking part in an exciting pilot of Talk about Talk Secondary. Part-funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, this is a training and tutoring programme for identified students with poor communication.

Take a look at our Talk About Talk Secondary map.

In this project, running until March 2017, I CAN are training members of school staff to train and mentor identified young people enabling them to co-deliver workshops about communication to local employers.

Delivering workshops first to an audience in their school and then to local businesses, students will learn and practise the communication skills that support other ‘soft’ employability skills such as team working, time management and problem-solving. A series of tutoring sessions run between workshops will help students to reflect on, and improve their communication and presentation skills.

With programme resources and on-going support from I CAN specialist communication advisors, trained staff can carry on running the programme after the pilot.

Project aims:

  • Young people with communication difficulties will improve their communication skills and be more prepared for the world of work
  • Local employers will know more about language and communication, and have ways to help young people with communication difficulties
  • School staff will feel confident at identifying young people with communication difficulties and supporting them to develop their communication
  • Schools and young people will develop the relationships they have with local employers, and have practical ways of working more closely together

Ann Bauer, Language Resource Provision Manager, The Vyne Community School - Basingstoke, said:
"Having completed the training, we’re really excited to carry on!"

Employers survey

Year on year employers state that the young people they employ lack the communication skills necessary for the work place. For more information about this please see our I CAN Talk paper Skills for Life Skills for Work. However “communication skills” is a very broad term. What exactly are the skills that young people need to have to do well in the workplace?

We have devised a short questionnaire to find out specifically what skills employers are looking for. Employers have been given a list of 12 communication skills and asked to select the 5 that they considered the most important for young people to have. Fifty one employers responded to the survey and 76% of those selected “checking when not sure or confused” as one of their top 5 skills. As one employer said “time doing things the wrong way and redoing costs money”.

Employers were also asked if the poor communication skills of young people were an issue in their organisation. 56% agreed that it was with one respondent commenting “'text speak' is a problem” and another “put down the phone and ignore it when interacting with people”.

If you are an employer who would be interested in completing our survey please click here. It is very quick to complete and all your answers will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Next Steps

  • Read more about how the pilot is progressing here.
  • Register your interest in receiving updates on the pilot
  • If you have any questions, please get in touch