The Government departments charged with increasing young people in employment met with enei Members last week to discuss a joint strategy to overcome the barriers commonly faced by young people transitioning from education into work.

Hosted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department for Education met leading employers to outline the Government’s strategy on the employment of young people, and to hear how employers are finding and nurturing talent from hard to reach groups. These include young people who are disabled, carers, from a deprived background, may have been young offenders, or may not have the social skills needed to compete with more articulate, confident young people from affluent backgrounds.

Denise Keating, CEO of enei, who chaired the meeting, said “It was great to see Government Departments working together on this issue and actively engaging with employers on its strategy. Employers and Government need to work together to ensure that the generation of school and university leavers get proper job opportunities, equipping them for future careers and enabling them to make a positive contribution to the UK economy throughout their working lives.
The series of Roundtables on Young People’s employment held last year found there were barriers to young people’s employment on both sides – young people found it hard to access what was on offer – one apprentice told us he had learned more about apprenticeships from his next door neighbour than his school’s careers adviser. Young people were concerned about the cost of studying to get the qualifications employers wanted and could not afford to do unpaid work, even though they realised that experience gained as, for example, an intern, would give them a huge advantage.

Employers found young people did not have basic education achievements – one enei Member reported that almost every application form had either a spelling or grammar mistake in it. Employers knew they had to invest in outreach activities and get their name known early to prospective candidates and use non-traditional recruitment methods to reach young people, such as the internet or social networking sites.”

Employers said they found young people in hard to reach groups were enthusiastic, motivated and loyal employees and wanted to tap into that potential. Employers explained that some small adjustments, for example, in working time, or induction procedures, enabled these young people to become productive employees.

The Government described various initiatives aimed at increasing the number of young people in employment or training, and asked enei Members for their views. Members highlighted the need for increased awareness by the careers advice service of the jobs they had on offer. They urged the Government to produce a user-friendly map of the options for school leavers which would help to navigate the employment and vocational training opportunities, and the incentives for employers offered by the Government to take young people into these schemes.