Employer investment in today’s young people

Katerina Rudiger, Head of Skills and Policy Campaigns, CIPD, @K_rudiger

It’s a well-known challenge that young people face: you can’t get a job without experience but it’s hard to get experience without that illusive job. In a recent survey by recruitment company Adecco, over half of young people cited lack of work experience as the main reason for rejection at job interviews.

Research being published this week at the Learning and Development Show will reveal that help is out there. In the 2014 Learning and Development (L&D) Survey, more than a third of organisations report that they offer training to students – young people still at school or university. This group benefits from training more than any other non-employee group except for volunteers at not-for-profits, with 37% of organisations responding to our survey saying they offer training to young people who are still in education.

The L&D survey doesn’t explore what sort of training organisations are offering and how exactly it helps young people get the experience they need to find work, but in our experience, employers’ engagement with young people that would be classified as training primarily consists of work experience and internships. These opportunities are vital to young people, and if they are high quality, they help them to make the transition from education into working life by giving them first-hand experience of the workplace, an insight into jobs and sectors, increased confidence and employability skills and a better understanding of how their skills and abilities translate to the workplace.

Looking at what training employers offer to people outside of their direct employment is a new area for our L&D survey so we can’t yet tell whether this is a one-off investment or whether the opportunities available to learners are increasing.  Previous research into programmes employers offer to young people to help them access the world of work indicates that there may be an upward trend – 37% reported an increase in the work experience opportunities they offered and 44% said they were offering more internships. The CIPD’s  ongoing Learning to Work campaign is seeking to drive up the number and range of openings for young people who need help getting onto the career ladder, and we have certainly seen a change in employer behaviour over the last two years whilst running engagement activities with employers.

In addition to all these organisations offering training to young people in education, there are also more offering actual employment to young people – that all-important first job. Apprenticeships, training programmes or just open-minded recruitment processes mean young people are getting their foot in the door and obtaining experience.

Our surveys show that many organisations are engaging with young people. But with the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds at 19.1% there’s still a long way to go.

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