Help young recruits develop commercial awareness, forum urges

Joe Williams , 20 Jan 2011


Organisations must help graduates improve their commercial awareness in order to empower them to play a productive role in the workplace, according to attendees of a roundtable discussion organised by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA).

At yesterday's event, representatives from several major employers, including BT, HSBC, McDonald’s, Michael Page and Santander, discussed how, although some universities are beginning to include modules which aid students’ development of commercial nous, organisations are increasingly aware they must engage potential recruits earlier in order to educate them better about the skills necessary for work.

The discussion was the first in a series of roundtable events organised by the EFA, which describes itself as 'an independent network of leading employers who recognise the value of an age diverse workforce', to explore the challenges faced by young people when entering the world of work.

Entitled ‘The future of young people in the workplace’, the series will explore access funding, training, and employer experiences in recruitment.

Attendees also discussed how the recession and the tuition fees’ hike have prompted many companies to re-evaluate their graduate recruitment policies and consider innovative recruitment options, such as paying university fees, internships and apprenticeships.

BT and other companies have recently begun moving away from conventional selection processes, such as psychometric tests, in favour of assessing 'real-life skills', such as decision-making, situational awareness and leadership capability.

Denise Keating, EFA’s chief executive, said: "The wide-ranging and diverse debate at this first event highlighted that companies have already woken up to realise that their traditional recruitment policies may not work for them going forward and they need to broaden their approach and sharpen their strategy if they want to select the best workers from the next generation."

The next event, which will focus on internships, will take place on 10 March 2011.  

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