19 February 2019

  |  CBI Scotland

Press release

Early intervention makes education 'everyone's business' and key to solving Scotland's long-term productivity puzzle – CBI Scotland

CBI Scotland will today launch a series of new business-led interventions aimed at addressing the Scottish economy’s persistent problem of low productivity.

Early intervention makes education 'everyone's business' and key to solving Scotland's long-term productivity puzzle – CBI Scotland

The first set of recommendations, focusing on education and skills, shows how more can be done to bridge the gap between the classroom and the world of work. New research based on a survey of Scottish businesses found:

  • More than three quarters (76%) of firms have at least some links with schools across Scotland but less than half (48%) are engaging at primary school level.
  • The most popular form of engagement is in-school talks (72%), followed by work experience (60%) and site visits (52%).
  • Only 4% of respondents said they currently offer secondment opportunities for teachers – yet engagement with teachers is crucial to success
  • Less than a third (32%) of businesses use a specialist third-party organisation (e.g. Founders4Schools) to help with their school engagement.

On business-led approaches to boosting productivity, Tracy Black will say:

“Boosting productivity really is a shared challenge for both government and business. While government has some hugely important levers at its disposal, there’s also a massive amount of untapped expertise within the business community. Today’s report represents the first step on that journey, to bring business-led solutions that can support government initiatives, get the economy firing once again and deliver the step change we need.”

On business-school engagement, Tracy will say:

“Developing a broad range of skills and an understanding of the world of work – and the opportunities it offers – is vital to a young person’s success. It’s also a solid grounding that will benefit them throughout their lifetime, as technology evolves the way we live and work. 

“Businesses are already playing a positive role in schools up and down the country but there is always more than can be done. There are a huge number of ways that businesses can have a positive influence – from careers talks and advice to site visits and formal work experience. Foundation, modern and graduate level apprenticeships also offer an increasingly varied range of opportunities for businesses to help equip young people with the skills they need.

“Businesses tell us time and time again that access to people and skills is their biggest challenge domestically, with demand for high skilled roles outstripping supply. If we want to create a modern workforce that’s fit for the future, then businesses have a crucial role to play in developing their future talent pipeline.”

On the value of engaging early, Tracy will say:

“Primary school has traditionally been a business blind-spot but working with children from a young age can have a powerful impact on their aspirations, attitudes and behaviours. Helping those young people make the link between their choices at school and future opportunities in the world of work is far too important to be overlooked.

“There’s a real shortfall in the number of young people, particularly young women, pursuing STEM careers and that’s a real worry. We need a diverse workforce, particularly in the kind of jobs we need to power a forward-looking Scottish economy.”

On using intermediaries to help bridge the gap, Tracy will say:

“Intermediary organisations like Founders4schools are already doing a fantastic job in helping to bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace and CBI Scotland will continue to work with our members and stakeholders to drive greater engagement between schools and businesses of all sizes and sectors.”

On engaging with teachers, Tracy will say:

“School engagement isn’t just about pupils. Research shows us that teachers are second only to parents when it comes to influencing a young person’s career decisions. The more industry experience teachers have, the better advice they’ll be able to offer young people about the career options available to them.

“Creating more opportunities for teachers to gain industry experience – without adding to an already demanding workload – is something that business, teachers and education authorities need to work on together to find the right mechanisms.”  

Further information on key programmes and resources:


Founders4schools has brokered hundreds of thousands of business-school interactions across the UK. As a charity, they aim to inspire students and prepare them for the rapidly changing world of work by enabling educators to invite business volunteers for encounters with their students. Their services are available online or via a new iPad app. You can visit www.founders4schools.org.uk to indicate that you are happy to be invited by local educators to inspire their pupils. The process is simple – it takes 30 seconds to sign up and make a difference to a young person’s future.


Marketplace is an online tool that helps connect schools and colleges with businesses. Businesses can register at www.myworldofwork.co.uk/marketplace then start passing on knowledge of their sector through workshops, talks, workplace visits or placements.

Developing the Young Workforce – Regional Groups

DYW Regional Groups were created as part of the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy. Twenty-one regional groups are working across the country to encourage and support employers to engage directly with schools and colleges and to challenge and support employers in recruiting more young people. To find out more about what is happening in your area and how you can get involved visit: www.dyw.scot.

Career Ready

Career Ready is a UK-wide charity linking employers with schools and colleges to open up the world of work to young people. They connect employers with schools and colleges to provide young people aged 14-18 with mentors, internships, masterclasses, and employer-led activities that prepare them for the world of work. For more information visit: www.careerready.org.uk.