If youth unemployment isn’t on your mind, it should be. It will affect us all!

 

According to the Office for National Statistics 1.64 million 18-24 year olds were economically inactive between December 2012 and February 2013.  Young people are struggling to make the cross over from education to the workplace.  With an obvious lack of roles available due to the recession, Companies naturally are recruiting candidates with experience; immediately putting younger people at a disadvantage. Many find it a ‘catch 22’ situation whereby experience is required to gain employment, but have no means to obtain it.

 

Youth unemployment can cause many issues and have a real impact on the UK’s already struggling economy. The obvious issue is the cost to the taxpayer that comes from keeping young people in the welfare system.  In April 2013 there were 403,200 18-24 year olds claiming jobseekers allowance.

 

The biggest impact youth unemployment will have is the key skills gap that the UK will have to fill if we fail to nurture and grow our own talent by employing younger people.  ‘The baby boom generation’ are nearing retirement. The ‘baby boomers’ are the generation who took a job for life. Most will have been with the same Company 20+ years and will have gathered key tacit knowledge about the Company. When retirement comes this knowledge will leave the Company with them. It will be lost forever along with the Companies competitive edge.

 

What can we do?

Lets get innovative.  What can we do to resolve these issues? We need to start engaging with young people before they leave school, offer advice about the ‘world of work’ vs ‘the school canteen’.  The CIPD has recently suggested that HR professional’s volunteer in schools and offer CV workshops and career advice. Realistic expectations must be set for interview conduct, attitude and enthusiasm in the work place.  All of this would be invaluable for young people trying to find employment. Employers also need to be aware that young people may not be familiar with a recruitment and selection process. Remember your first interview?

 

Another practical way in which to bridge these issues is to set up mentoring programmes. Companies can employ young people who can be guided and mentored this will help the key tacit knowledge to be retained. This would be the same for apprenticeships and even internships. They all allow us to develop a new employee and grow talent from within; keeping that ever important talent pipeline flowing.

 

plotr are doing something about the issue.  plotr are a new careers platform for 11- to 24-year-olds, the website inspires young people to discover their future through cleverly crafted career worlds, a resource centre and accessible employer profiles. It includes an opportunity finder that gives users the chance to find jobs, work experience and volunteering opportunities in their area as advertised by employers through the site. Employers participating so far are Barclays, Deloitte, Facebook, Siemens, BP, McDonalds, Universal Music, Williams F1 and EE to name a few.

 

Regardless of your Company size isn’t it time for us to get involved and take charge of our children and businesses future.   As ultimately failure to engage with our younger generations will leave them unemployed, on a back foot, will cause additional strain on our welfare system and put a potential skills gap in our UK economy.  If we act now and engage our youth this will not only have an immediate impact on the UK economy but it will pave the way for the future of UK business.

 

Leanne McGinty

HR Consultant – OutThere RPO