Despite this we have pockets of the UK population where there are untapped sources of talent. The tatest ONS statistics show that there are currently more than 800,000 young people in the UK not in education, employment or training. Figures show that this demographic are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than the population as a whole.
This combined with many other groups who are underrepresented in the workforce represents a huge amount of untapped resource, which would not only improve our society’s social mobility but also strengthen our economy. There are many players and projects making interventions in this space yet the problem persists. It’s time we took a different approach.
Finding ways to attract and retain this talent in the workplace through employability programmes can be a brilliant feed into your talent pipeline. Some employers view these programmes from a corporate social responsibility angle (and there is no doubt it’s the right thing to do), but this misses the scale of the opportunity.
Firstly, we have a talent crisis that is increasing and yet there are pools of untapped talent across our society. Utilising these can be part of the solution. It leads to loyal and motivated employees, and when employability programmes are delivered well this increases the morale and connection to purpose of your current workforce.
Secondly, we know that work placements improve the diversity of a company’s workforce. The reason these talent pools exist is because they have not been given the same opportunities as you or I for many differing reasons. It’s been proven that diversity drives performance. It is also true that work placements can deliver a higher return on investment in recruitment and retention.
Finally, many will be paying the apprenticeship levy and wondering what to do with it. In delivering employability programmes you can create a pipeline through training and quality work placements that will help apprenticeships fulfil what they were set up to do: offer a ladder of opportunity for all and create pathways to higher skills and qualifications. That said, the levy doesn’t currently support people on a path to apprenticeships and I would love to see more flex in the levy to allow us to fund pre-employment programmes and support a more diverse range of people into apprenticeships.
The key to unlocking the potential of our nation’s young people and making our economy thrive is to provide individuals with a path to apprenticeships, training and teaching them the skills and confidence to prepare them for the world of work. The amount of untapped talent in pockets of the UK population is not acceptable and I would encourage all of you to explore what more you can do. The talent is out there, but we need to work hard to ensure we provide the right platform for people to achieve their potential.
James Ashall is CEO of Movement to Work