Today’s young people – tomorrow’s workforce

be-personnel-10th-anniversary-logo-50-5-jan-2015-2by Angela Brunton, Managing Director, Be Personnel Ltd. Continuing our guest blog series featuring Informed Scotland subscribers writing on the theme Making connections across the learning & skills landscape.

I started my recruitment business ten years ago with the objective of providing the best service and experience possible, for clients and candidates alike, through partnership working. We now have several clients who have worked with us for all or most of our time in business as well as candidates who return to use our services for career moves.

My belief in partnership working has never diminished and when invited to write a guest blog addressing skills for employment from a recruitment perspective I decided to look at young people who are the focus of Education Working For All!, the final report of the Wood Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, published in June 2014.

It found broad agreement that all of our young people are entitled to an educational experience that is relevant to the world of work, and I believe that much can still be done in employer–school/college partnerships to enhance initiatives already in place to help ensure that relevance.

Excellent strategy papers have been drafted, vast amounts of relevant statistical information collated, and working groups established to identify employer needs and skills required to get young people into work, and it is not for me to intrude into the expertise of their authors and members. However, I hope I can add some value by speaking a little about how we, the employers, could help young people stand out from the crowd in any competitive selection process.

Much has been written about links between schools and colleges and employers, the provision of work experience, careers information, advice and guidance but sometimes the missing link is practical and relevant support about how to shine in the recruitment process. Many employers provide opportunities that include work placements, apprenticeships, graduate programmes or internships – but do they get the best fit and does the young person know what to expect?

Those of you reading this are likely to span decades of different dates for your first day at work and this may influence the expectations you had as well as how you were treated, how you felt, and indeed how you would like to have been treated. My own experience was being sent up a 10 foot ladder where I had to look for and file tax returns, without any thought for my health and safety or checking to see if I was coping; my employment ended when I walked out after three days!! No doubt my actions could be regarded as childish and irresponsible, but days two and three brought no improvement or meaningful communication.

Are young people today just as likely to be treated or respond in the same way? I hope not. I don’t have all the answers but do see evidence of some young people still ill-prepared for work and employers who don’t always recognise this and are not able to provide the supportive environment needed to successfully integrate a young person into the team/company.

We are busy people; we have businesses to run, profits to make, clients and suppliers to satisfy, all of which cannot be denied, but please don’t lose sight of the fact that the school/college leavers of today are the workforce of tomorrow for all of us.

So how can we help? As a recruitment business I advise clients seeking to employ young people to begin by taking simple actions:

  • Use jargon free plain language for adverts
  • Advertise where young people are likely to look
  • Provide a link to your company website
  • Ensure an accurate description of the job
  • Highlight opportunities for development and progress.

As an employer you could consider forming a partnership with a school or college in your local area to offer practical support through:

  • Helping with CV writing
  • Identifying skills, characteristics, traits
  • Explanations about differing routes into work
  • Mock interviews (telephone and face to face)
  • Creating awareness of transferable skills
  • Explaining clearly what you need from young employees.

The Learning to Work programme led by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) promotes the role of employers in reducing youth unemployment. CIPD also promotes direct contact with young people via youth volunteering programmes, Steps Ahead Mentoring and HR Inspiring the Future.

The Institute for Employment Studies’ research paper Young People’s Views and Experience on Entering the Workplace commissioned by ACAS can perhaps teach all of us more about the successful recruitment and retention of young people, simply by listening!

For further information contact Angela Brunton [email protected]
Website:  Facebook: bepersonnel  Twitter: @BePersonnel 

Read previous guest blogs in the series, including those from GTC Scotland, SCEL, Clyde Gateway, EDT Scotland and SCQF Partnership.

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