According to CIPD’s recent research into young people and the workplace, SMEs can help overcome youth unemployment in Britain.
Over the last three years, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have been collating information to establish the levels of employer engagement with young people – those aged 16 to 24. The Learning to Work survey report has been created with a particular focus on the recruitment of young people and the types of programmes offered to them by organisations.
The research found that while large employers are making every effort to recruit young people (86 per cent reported that they had recruited at least one young person since 2014), only 50 per cent of SMEs claim they have hired a young person in the same amount of time.
This could simply be put down to lower recruitment levels. However, with SMEs providing three in every five private sector jobs (CBI, 2014) it is important that this issue is addressed.
Michael Bennett, Managing Director of ReThink Recruitment, believes there are be several reasons why SME empolyers are avoiding the recruitment of young people. He said: “The main thing that discourages some SMEs from hiring young adults is that they may not feel they have the appropriate infrastructure or support networks in place to assist with their professional development.”
“Another factor may be that many employers consider 16-24 year olds as the ‘job-hopping’ generation and may be hesitant to invest in their long-term development if they think they’re going to leave in a few months’ time,” he added.
The Learning to Work survey also found that SMEs have low levels of engagement with schools and colleges. Only 38 per cent of SME employers work with educational institutions to offer opportunities for young people, in comparison with 70 per cent of larger organisations.
What can be done?
Mr Bennett said: “I think more businesses should look to engage with modern apprenticeships. The benefits are clear to see and firms can get the benefits of employing [young] individuals along with financial support for their training and development.”
Mr Bennett highlighted that SMEs would benefit from young employees’ energy and enthusiasm, as well as knowledge on areas such as social media. He also noted that “the education sector has to do considerably more to prepare young people for the world of work, so the responsibility doesn’t fall entirely at the feet of the employers.”
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