We live in extraordinary times. Youth unemployment is still at a record high, with many young people struggling to find their first job. At the same time, employers often find it difficult to get the skills they need and these mismatch needs to be addressed.
A new CIPD Report highlights ways in which we can bridge the divide between young people and employers. On the one hand employers need to adapt their recruitment practices to engage more successfully with young people, while on the other hand young people need to increase their employability skills and understanding about what is expected from them during the recruitment process.
The Report “Employers are from Mars, Young People are from Venus: Addressing the young people/jobs mismatch” research found that:
- Young people are disadvantaged in today’s labour market, with employers preferring to recruit more experienced workers
- Line managers have been identified as a particular barrier in taking on young people
- Many employers do not recruit young people because they worry about the level of investment they need to provide
- There are substantial differences across sectors and sizes when it comes to how many young people organisations recruit and what roles they offer
- There is an untapped potential for job opportunities for young people, especially in the high-growth, high-skilled occupations
- Both employers and young people have unrealistic expectations about what they can offer each other.
Drawing on the experience of other employers and young people, the report makes 8 key recommendations specifically aimed at employers:
- Make a business case for recruiting young people to line managers and colleagues
- Adapt your own expectations of young people so that you are realistic about how work-ready they will be when they first arrive
- Think about the roles and access routes for young people into your organisation
- Take action to attract from a wider pool of young people. Broaden your outreach by promoting opportunities via a range of methods, such as social media, attending recruitment fairs, engaging with schools and advertising via Jobcentre Plus, as well as traditional methods such as local newspapers and websites
- Ensure your selection processes are youth-friendly and transparent. There are a number of basic things you can do to ensure you get the best calibre of young people applying for opportunities:
- Provide the closing date and contact details for the advertised position.
- Be open about the recruitment process, what the stages are and the expectations during those stages.
- Develop simple, easy-to use application forms.
- Be clear about the selection criteria and review it for each new job – is experience or a degree really essential?
- As well as employers, policy-makers also have a role to play in improving the prospects of young people:
- There is a need for greater support for young people during the transition phase between education and employment.
- Careers advice and guidance and work preparation should be a part of the national curriculum and schools need to be assessed to incentivise them to put more efforts into this.
The advice is not to rely on teachers but get external experts, including employers, into schools to talk about these issues. They can pay attention to those areas where greater advice is needed; addressing the patchiness all other advice, including Career advice and guidance into the curriculum educational part. Information exchange needs to take place for those students leaving school, in particular emphasis should be on apprenticeships and other alternatives to university. More support should be given to encourage employer student contact and sharing possible work experience opportunities.
Young people require an interviewer who “gets them” and is able to draw on their skills, line managers however need guidance on how to do this. It important to remember that young people have little or no first-hand experience of the workplace organisations will need to allow for this. At the same time, if young people are pursuing unrealistic ambitions as teenagers (only one in ten are interested in careers in culture, media and sports and will likely be successful), risks are high as they may pursue educational journeys which can ultimately lead them to a struggle to find relevant work.
There are currently some excellent interventions by UK employers and other organisations aimed to support, both, employers and young people in bridging this gap. Some of these organisations are:
- Steps Ahead Mentoring – Is a mentoring project that matches HR professionals with young jobseekers aged 18 to 24. The project offers young people, most of whom have never worked before, up to six one-to-one mentoring sessions to help them improve their employability, boost their confidence and find work.
- The Business in the Community’s (BITC) Work Inspiration Programme – Work Inspiration is a national employer-led campaign that targets 14–19-year-olds in full-time education to make their first experience of the world of work more meaningful and inspiring.
- Generation Talent – Generation Talent is a joint initiative between BITC and the Department for Work and Pensions which has been developed to help jobseekers by providing practical help for companies as they promote their vacancies to the unemployed.
This CIPD research shows that there is a clear divide between young people and employers at the recruitment stage. It also shows that while there is a lot of good practice out there, a lot more needs to be done to address this mismatch and to improve the matching of young people and job opportunities. There is a clear business case for employers to make their practices more youth-friendly, as those that have done so – have improved their ability to attract talent and get the right skills (companies such as Siemens and Boots). Finally, the research demonstrates that young people need more support and guidance on how to access job opportunities and how to enter the workforce.
Apparently over the coming months the CIPD will build on this research and aims to tackle some of these issues, most likely by producing tailored guidance for both, employers and young people. The CIPD also plans on getting more members involved in up-skilling young people. They will work with the UK National Apprenticeships Service (NAS) to help achieve improvements between the apprenticeships opportunities offered by employers and young people’s applications. (my query is really that if the CIPD is looking at this from an international aspect – it is a much larger problem – and what is happening in the rest of the world…)
All of this so that employers and young people can lead a symbiotic existence together in the work world!
(c) 2013 New To HR (a Human Resources Global company)
Written by Nicole Le Maire, Founder of NewvTo HR, a company which is dedicated towards providing new and junior/young HR professionals with the skills and expertise required to thrive in the HR industry. We can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @NewToHR
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