A third of all employers are involved in formal links with schools and colleges according to a survey from the Institute for Employment Studies.
Four-fifths of these employers have links with secondary schools, 61 per cent have links with further education colleges, 47 per cent with universities and 30 per cent with primary schools. Nearly 3,000 questionnaires were sent out to employers and 47 per cent responded. They were followed by 70 follow-up interviews.
Employers' Views of Education Business Links by Jim Hillage, senior research fellow at the institute, found that the majority of links with both universities and further education colleges involved work placements.
But some form of research link-up, involvement in careers days, work with an Enterprise in Higher Education initiative and involvement as a governor were also common.
The survey also found that most employers get involved in an ad hoc way and said that there was scope for further involvement. "Around a third of the employers already involved with education said they were willing to do more," says Mr Hillage. "And some 30 per cent of those not involved at all said they were potentially interested in becoming involved."
The survey identified three barriers to further involvement by employers, especially among smaller businesses. Lack of available time or staff was a key one, as well as a lack of awareness about the benefits of such links and little know-how about how to get involved.
The most important reason for employer involvement with education is described in the report as "enlightened self-interest" - such as influencing young people in their attitudes to work and their career.
The second most important set of reasons concerned more altruistic goals - such as putting something back into the community or providing education with management expertise.