UK businesses should be focusing on developing their Generation Y employees in order to retain talent and increase business performance, says the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

The CIPD’s latest report, Developing the Next Generation, reveals that a significant challenge for organisations is developing a clear business case for developing young people.

Ruth Stuart, Research Adviser for L&D at the CIPD, said:

“With over 300,000 young people entering the workforce every year, organisations need to establish effective development opportunities from the moment they’re employed, so they can retain them and build on the unique skills they bring.

“To be successful though, organisations must be clear on what they are trying to achieve. It’s pointless to introduce a scheme without first considering its impact on the wider business and ensuring it fits with future resourcing needs.

“By providing an appealing alternative to university through their recruitment and development programmes, for example, [companies such as] Barclays and Capgemini have been able to tap into and retain young talent, plug significant skills gaps and achieve substantial organisational benefits. This shows just how crucial a clear business case is in achieving a quality outcome.”

The report goes on to discuss how, once the business case is clear, L&D and HR professionals must understand the strengths, skills and learning preferences of young people. Those the CIPD interviewed flagged a preference for bite-sized learning, gaining knowledge from experience and receiving constructive feedback on actions.

However, although they admitted to being ‘tech-savvy’, when asked about which learning methods they disliked, the answer was unanimously ‘online training’. Organisations therefore need to be careful not to generalise or stereotype young people, as this could lead to false assumptions and ineffective development initiatives.

Stuart added:

“Young people have enormous potential to contribute to a business’s success if their strengths and skills are recognised and enhanced. Organisations need to carefully select the right kind of programmes to ensure they have the chance to make an impact at an early stage. L&D and HR professionals need to collaborate and communicate to pinpoint the learning preferences of new generations and line managers also have a crucial role to play in developing and implementing initiatives.”

The report, launched today, explores this issue through a series of case studies from organisations including Fujitsu, ActionAid, CapGemini, Reed Smith and Barclays.