Eight in 10 (79%) organisations now employ at least one young person compared to less than three quarters (73%) in 2014, according to new research from CIPD.

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The professional body for people management’s survey of 850 HR professionals revealed that, although the number of 16 to 24-year-olds being offered entry-level opportunities is on the rise, they are less prevalent among small and medium sized employers (SMEs), with less than six in 10 (58%) currently employing anyone under the age of 25.

Katerina Rüdiger, Head of Volunteering and Employability Campaigns at the CIPD, said:

“As employment levels continue to improve it’s encouraging to see that more organisations are employing young people and developing their own talent pipelines by doing so. Large employers in particular are more likely to offer a range of entry level opportunities compared to this time last year, including Apprenticeships, graduate schemes and work experience placements. Many are also taking other steps to help young people, such as engaging with local schools and colleges, which shows a genuine commitment to supporting education to work transitions.

“However, as a high proportion of jobs in the UK are created by SMEs, it’s essential that they are also equipped to bring in and nurture younger workers and have the information they need to create a clear youth engagement strategy. Only once they too are engaged with tackling youth unemployment can we be confident that the problem has been truly cracked.”

In contrast, nine in 10 larger organisations (93%) are offering working opportunities to the younger generation through entry-level positions and work experience.

The research also revealed:

  • Work experience is the most popular entry-level opportunity offered by employers; 64 percent of larger organisations currently offer placements compared to 39 percent of SMEs
  • The number of employers that report offering apprenticeships has risen dramatically to almost half (47%), compared to less than a third (31%) at the end of 2013. However, SMEs are less than half as likely to offer apprenticeships, with only 26 percent reporting that they do compared to 62 percent of larger organisations
  • The number of graduate schemes offered by SME employers is currently very low, with only 11 percent of SMEs stating that they offer them, compared to 51 percent of large employers