Youth unemployment; we’ve actually reached 2.5 million. I never thought I’d actually see us get to the point where one in five 16-24 year olds are currently unemployed, it just isn’t right, fair or just.

Having worked in the education & training sector for more than 11 years, I, like my Alderwood Education colleagues, have never seen unemployment levels at such a high; it is definitely a record – unfortunately not the good kind. The release of these figures is shocking and I feel we can’t just stand back and watch it steadily increase year on year.

Yes, the Government has increased investment in apprenticeship schemes and it is true the Work Programme is in progress, but the truth is, none of this will work unless those in the HR and recruitment community step up and back the youth of today, giving them that helping hand onto the career ladder.

The Work Programme I spoke about on 4th January is a great initiative, but at the end of the day it is all reliant on the commitment of organisations and industries across the UK to succeed. A huge step to increasing employability is providing job seekers with positive employment experiences and this is where I feel the HR community has a key input. Where possible, offering work placements is an effective means of providing individuals with direct workplace experience, which will in turn increase their employability. In addition, the HR community can help by giving those who are further removed from the workplace, a chance within the selection process. It is important to avoid making a judgment solely on CV or interview performance, which may not be as strong as those who are currently in work. We should be striving to make an assessment against future potential, rather than current circumstances. Even if the outcome is unsuccessful, we can still help by providing detailed feedback, which should assist to improve their performance, boast their confidence and subsequently, enhance their chances of gaining employment.

We are all being urged by David Cameron to support his ‘Big Society’ plans. He is aiming to empower communities, create a culture of volunteerism and essentially generate a concept of ‘people power.’ Whilst in the business world, we have limited time to dedicate; I believe that the HR and recruitment community have a wealth of expertise and knowledge to offer the unemployed in order to assist them in their journey to find work. If we were to all volunteer just a few hours a month to advise local job seekers on the best means of getting employment, as a community, we could definitely make a difference.

I very much look forward to the outcome and hope when the next batch of youth unemployment figures are released, they will be reduced.

This information is believed to be correct as of the date published. It is not a substitute for legal advice and no liability attaches to its use. Specific and personal legal advice should be taken on any individual matter’