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The job market is more competitive than ever throughout the UK and new research has revealed that SMEs are struggling to find enthusiastic young candidates for roles, with many not even having any previous work experience.

A new report released today reveals the qualities that bosses look for when hiring young people to join their business.

The new study of 500 business decision makers by Arch Apprentices provided an insight into essential qualities in potential employees. The research uncovered that many think it should be essential for young people to partake in work experience, to give young people early involvement in a professional environment.

Almost all of those surveyed (93 per cent) thought that work experience and careers advice should be compulsory in schools.

When hiring young people within their business the majority looked for enthusiasm (74 per cent) – followed closely by a good understanding of the role (61 per cent), relevant work experience (54 per cent) or any work experience at all (34 per cent).

However, further research did show that finding these qualities within young candidates wasn’t always easy. Almost half (43 per cent) admitted that they struggle to find enthusiastic young people to take positions. 39 per cent said that the majority of their applicants have no/very limited experience in the work place and 28% believe that the majority of applicants have irrelevant qualifications.

UK schools haven’t had to offer compulsory work experience since 2012 when the coalition government scrapped the idea. With so many businesses agreeing that work placements should be compulsory, Arch Apprentices are calling on the current government to reinstate meaningful work experience for all children as well as provide up to date advice and guidance about future career options.

The research uncovered that employers believe that work experience helps prepare young people for business (68 per cent) and will help prepare them on the types of jobs which are desirable to business, boosting their skills (64%). Over half (57 per cent) also believe that it helps to install a strong work ethic.

Ben Rowland from Arch Apprentice said:

 “We have a duty to the young people growing up in this country to provide them with the right information at the right time, to prepare them for a career that is fulfilling, rewarding and in touch with the digital world we now live in.  Compulsory work experience  would go some way to  providing this, but there’s more we can do – employers, parents schools and  training providers need to come together to arm young people with more information about their options  including skills based  apprenticeships, not just university.”