Increasing numbers of UK employers are turning to young workers to fill their skills gaps, signalling the end of an austere decade for young jobseekers, new research from the CIPD finds.
The latest Labour Market Outlook from the professional body for HR and people development shows that the proportion of employers that say they plan to hire more apprentices and school-leavers has increased sharply in response to recruitment difficulties since spring 2014.
Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Analyst, for the CIPD, said:
“After a long, dark decade, the prospects for young people are finally looking brighter. The tightening labour market is undoubtedly encouraging more employers to turn to a wider range of younger recruits. However, it is also due to a recognition among a growing number of employers that they need to develop talent to limit the potential for future labour shortages and pay pressures.
“The increase in the number of high-quality apprenticeships and the ongoing recruitment pressures faced by employers should mean that the pathway to sustainable employment will be within the reach of more young people.”
A third (33%) of employers currently reporting hard-to-fill vacancies plan to hire more apprentices, a marked increase compared with just 22 percent in the spring 2014 report.
Around a quarter (26%) predict recruiting graduates and twelve per cent plan to hire more school leavers, up by a third compared with the spring 2014 report (9%).
The findings help explain the latest ONS data which shows that the employment rate for 16-24 year olds that aren’t in full-time education has risen to a level last seen in 2008 (74.3%).
“Employers need to support this recruitment drive by ensuring that they have the people management practices in place to support the effective utilisation of skills, which is critical to job retention and productivity.
The UK has the second highest level of over-qualification in the OECD and unless more employers get better at putting their people’s skills to good use, efforts to boost their and the UK’s productivity will be critically undermined. Looking further ahead, the introduction of the ‘National Living Wage’ may boost the attractiveness of employing workers aged below 25 further, which could see young people reverse recent trends by becoming the new winners in a new era for the jobs market.”
The Labour Market Outlook also suggests that employment confidence looks to remain strong over the next three months. This quarter’s net employment balance – which measures the difference between the proportion of employers who expect to increase and those that intend to decrease staff levels – has increased to +29, up from the +24 reported in Spring 2015.