THE structure of education is leaving young people “wholly unprepared” for the working world of the next decade, the head of a private school has warned.

Angharad Holloway, of Talbot Heath School in Bournemouth, voiced concerns about the “narrow-minded and aggressive” focus on exam results and called instead for a focus on “soft skills”.

In a conversation with Angela Piromalli, managing director of Rock Recruitment, she said: “There has to be more joined-up thinking between education, higher education and commerce. More so than ever before. Let’s be straight. School leavers will not have the skill sets required for industry in the next 10 years. The current education structure is around prescribed content, tasks and assessment. People are wholly unprepared.

“The skills for young people have to be centred on the ability to learn, change and be adaptable.We need to explore the importance of soft skills.

“We have a system where everyone is judged on tangible data and how people perform in an exam, under time pressure. Everything is linked to exam performance, which is narrow-minded and aggressive.

“We are seeing faculties such as design, music and drama being closed within schools, where the higher funding is allocated to English, maths and science. Within the UK, it is the flair, the passion and the creativity where we all excel.”

She cited predictions that 65 per cent of today’s children will end up in careers that do not yet exist. “The ability to adapt and embrace change is critical. It could be approaching tasks in a different way, adopting a flexible mindset and seeing challenges as an opportunity and not a threat,” she said.

“The future is not about learning for AI, bots and automation. It is about learning, confidence and communication. Critiquing has to be standard within education. People need to be able to fail.”

Angela Piromalli – who runs the Rock Star Awards to celebrate the achievements of young people – said: “The marketplace is very different from five years ago. Candidates want to feel empowered. It used to be an emphasis on the skillsets and qualifications for a particular role. It is now much wider.”

She stressed the value of the “wildcard” job candidate, who does not necessarily match the requirements of a job on paper but could be the ideal person.

“Focus used to be based on the interview scenario and CV preparation. I now visit schools and highlight that preparation for the commercial world is more about confidence, communication and nurturing contacts,” she said.