Employers encouraged to take a chance on young people to reduce unemployment

The CIPD has pledged to support young people in the UK, as just under half (43%) feel the pandemic has harmed their long-term career prospects.

While the economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures found there were 166,000 fewer young people aged 16 to 24 employed compared to pre-pandemic. 

In June 2021, 3.7 million young people were employed, a reduction of 200,000 employed in March 2020. 

The CIPD found 50% of young people not in work have been unemployed for 12 months and half (49%) of those unemployed are not confident about finding any work in the next three months.

In response, the professional body for HR has launched a One Million Chances campaign.

The campaign is designed to get employers to create one million opportunities for young people, aged 16 to 30 through jobs, through internships, work experience, apprenticeships, T-Levels or the Kickstart scheme. 

Openreach, Tesco and Dorchester Collection are among a selection of the UK companies that have already pledged their support.

Jonathan Richards, CEO at Breathe, said the One Million Chances campaign is encouraging for HR teams in the UK.

He told HR magazine: “This is an important initiative that will incentivise both disheartened young people unfairly disadvantaged by the pandemic, and employers seeking new staff.

“With the support and guidance of this campaign, employers must put systems like internships and apprenticeships in place to provide adequate training for those embarking upon their careers.”

Richards said apprentices will be essential to SMEs and key to business and economic recovery, both now and in the future.

He said: “A well-designed and supported apprenticeship programme is a clear and effective way to introduce and develop new talent into any business.

“The CIPD’s campaign comes at a time when businesses need employees with new skills which can be utilised to help firms of every size come back stronger.

“It’s perfect timing as offices begin to reopen and recruitment efforts ramp up again.”

Richards highlighted how important it is for all staff to have access to in-person face time.

“It is essential for forming long-standing relationships, but particularly for junior workers seeking mentorship to further their career journey,” he said.

Lizzie Crowley, senior skills adviser at the CIPD, said employers should be concerned about how unemployment can effect young workers' morale. 

She said: “While Brexit and much talk of staff shortages in recent months may give the impression that it should be easy for young people to walk into a job, they are still often left at the back of the queue because employers tend to favour experienced workers.

“We want to help young people get their career off to a flying start as unemployment at a young age can leave permanent scarring.”

Crowley said more employers also need to take a chance on young people and be prepared to train them up.

“Given our labour supply is changing and staff shortages are becoming more prevalent.

“We also don’t want them to miss out on the creativity, ingenuity and energy young people can bring to an organisation,” she said.

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