IT is an age-old adage that young people are our future but this really is the case as far as businesses are concerned, writes Emma Rawlings, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce.

Facing a skills gap and a tight labour market, employers have a key role to play in helping to prepare young people for the world of work.

In turn, school leavers with the right skills can help to ease the pressures businesses are facing in the current economic climate.

But to achieve this, a stable and coherent skills strategy is needed to ensure young people have the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in both life and work.

Firms are struggling to hire staff with the right skills, so now is the time to invest more in our future workforce.

That is why the Chamber network has launched a Youth Skills Manifesto which calls on politicians to do more to help school leavers transition from education into the workplace.

We need to raise awareness and aspiration and give young people all the support they need to get great jobs and achieve their full potential in the world of work.

The curriculum must help young people develop essential, transferable skills and ensure everyone has access to high quality, impartial careers advice.

Young people are the future of our economy and preparing them for the world of work is crucial.

Alongside Government and the education system, business has an important role to play in engaging, informing, training and supporting young people.

Chamber-led Local Skills Improvement Plans are setting out the priorities for change in local communities and helping ensure the best training opportunities are available for our future workforce.

But a nationwide youth skills strategy is not just a nice-to-have; it is a necessity and a promise that will equip the youth of today with all the tools, knowledge and adaptability needed to thrive in the workplace of tomorrow.