CIPD Voice: Issue 14

The latest figures on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), released on the 23rd of May, and showed a slight increase of 8,000 on the previous year’s data. Currently 808,000 young people (aged 16-24 years) in the UK are NEET, with 40% of these actively looking and available for work and classed as unemployed.

While youth unemployment has fallen considerably since the recession we should not be complacent about these figures. Not only do they represent a cost for the young people involved – being NEET has been shown to lead to long term wage scarring, poorer mental and physical health, and increased likelihood of future spells of worklessness – they also represent a loss of potential for both business and society.

Helping young people take the first step into the world of work can be challenging, but business who actively seek and recruit young people can reap the rewards. In today’s fast changing world harnessing diversity of thinking and experience is critical in maintaining a competitive edge. Businesses can often fall into the trap of hiring ‘mini-mes’. They hire people who look, act and sound similar to the people they already have, often out of a belief that they’ll fit best with their existing team. Increasingly employers are recognising the value of recruiting talent from more diverse backgrounds, but getting it right requires dedication and effort.

The CIPD have recently helped shape a new guide for HR and line managers to recruit and develop ‘marginalised’ young people. The guide provides helpful dos and don’ts for organisations who want to help recruit and develop young people who may not have had experience of the workplace, top tips for when a young person first joins your company, include:

  • “Make sure they know exactly what they’re doing, who they’re working with and for how long for at least the first 12 months.
  • Manage expectations. Give clear timescales for career progression so they don’t expect a quick promotion.
  • Get your colleagues to buy into their development. Their support is just as important as yours. Assign them a line manager and have regular catch ups.
  • Make sure there is always an open, neutral route to communication with someone they can talk to if they are struggling with something.”

By following the practical tips outlined in this guide you will be unlocking access to a wide new pool of talent you might otherwise have overlooked, at the same time enabling marginalised young people achieve their full potential.

And there are many other ways that HR professionals can engage and support young people build their skills and make the important transition from education to work. We have developed a range of resources to support HR professionals through our Learning to Work programme. You can also become a Steps Ahead Mentor to provide mentoring sessions for young jobseekers to help them improve their employability skills, boost their confidence and find work. You can also get involved by becoming an Enterprise Adviser. Enterprise Advisers are senior business volunteers who are matched with a school or college to provide local labour market insight and advice on how to connect to other local employers. CIPD members interested in volunteering can register their interest at

Elizabeth Crowley

Lizzie Crowley, Policy Adviser - Skills

Elizabeth has recently joined the CIPD as a Policy Adviser. Elizabeth is a policy and research professional with over 13 years’ experience in the employment and skills arena, having worked with both the public and private sector to develop high-quality research to inform organisational practice, public policy and shape the public debate.

Prior to joining the CIPD Elizabeth led The Work Foundation's research and policy development on the youth labour market – and has published a number of influential reports on youth unemployment. She has regularly appeared on national and regional TV and radio, including BBC Breakfast, BBC the One Show, the Today Programme and Channel 4 news. Elizabeth graduated in Sociology and has a master's degree in Social Science Research Methods, both from the University of Glasgow.