Students do possess right attributes for work, study claims
New research looking at the business benefits of engaging with young people challenges the perceived wisdom that school leavers lack the basic skills and right attitude for the workplace.
The findings come from qualitative research commissioned by Career Academies UK, a business-education charity that helps bridge the gap between employers and socially disadvantaged students.
Sponsored by Santander, the research consulted senior managers in companies about their experiences of working with 16- to 19 year-olds. The study identified seven key benefits for employers, which roughly divided into two groups; personal benefits to employees involved in working with young people and commercial benefits to the organisations themselves.
By engaging with young people, companies stated that they had become better connected with their communities and customers, improved their marketing to young people and opened up new talent streams.
A massive 75 per cent of respondents stated professional development of the staff involved was a key benefit of engaging with young people. A further 70 per cent felt that increased employee morale was another reason to open their doors, an opinion shared by these businesses irrespective of their size.
One in five of the employers surveyed had recruited a young person as a direct result of engaging with the Career Academies UK programme with one employer estimating a saving in recruitment costs in excess of £100,000.
Director of policy at Career Academies UK, David Walker said; "The message is clear. Once they come to know them, employers do value young people and are struck by their enthusiasm and energy levels. What is missing is the connectivity between the two. The time has never been more important for businesses to access this untapped resource. If attitudes don't change we risk losing a generation that cannot afford university and cannot find work."
With one million young people out of work, employers' perceptions of young people are a major hurdle to employment. The CBI reports that 81 per of SMEs are not confident that school leavers possess the right level of employability skills. The CIPD says poor careers advice and a lack of support leaves young people with little understanding of the world of work and how to improve their chances of finding a job
However, Katerina Rüdiger, head of policy campaigns at the CIPD, said: "This important research confirms what many employers who do recruit young people know already: bringing young people into your organisation makes business sense. We also know that many employers want to increase their engagement with young people, but sometimes struggle with taking the first step. HR professionals can lead the way in this, which is why the CIPD is working with its members, providing them with practical advice and guidance on how to take on young people and how to collaborate with organisations like Career Academies UK to make this happen."