There needs to be closer integration between the public and private sector if young people are to be given a better chance of employment.
Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive Officer of Suffolk County Council, said schools need to work with businesses to make sure students are ready for the world of work.
Mrs Cadman made the call while speaking at a Best of Haverhill event at the Days Inn on Thurdsay, August 20.
“It is so important to us,” she said. “The young people will be the people who look after us and support our growth and businesses.
“It is unacceptable that so many are not achieving the highest results and are leaving school without the right qualifications and low aspirations.”
Mrs Cadman advised the business representatives present to take on apprentices and to enter a dialogue with schools and groups like One Haverhill and Raising the Bar to help this happen.
“Employers are telling us the pupils leaving school are not work-ready,” said Mrs Cadman. “We are investing in our schools and are encouraging them to keep one eye on employment.
“We would like to see more schools building good relationships with businesses.”
Mrs Cadman also said students needed to have higher ambitions as well as academic results and needed to be supported.
She said: “Even though young people may be really bright, their ambition is still limited.
“If the teachers and parents can offer more support it would help massively. At the moment, we are selling our kids short.”
Mrs Cadman praised the council’s Raising the Bar scheme and the number of students it had helped get into apprenticeships, and encouraged more businesses to get involved in it.
“It’s not just about achievement,” she said. “It’s about raising kids’ sights.”