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Youth employment on the rise, but SMEs lagging behind

Eight in 10 (79%) organisations are employing young people overall, but smaller businesses are far less likely to employ a young person, according to research from the CIPD.

The CIPD’s Learning to Work research found 58% of SMEs employ someone aged 16 to 24, compared to 93% of large organisations.

Only a quarter (26%) of SMEs offer apprenticeships, compared to 62% of large organisations. And while two-thirds (64%) of large businesses provide work placements, only 39% of SMEs do the same.

When it comes to graduate opportunities, only 11% of SMEs have graduate schemes, compared to half (51%) of large organisations.

Overall, the CIPD found youth employment was on the up, with the number of entry-level jobs available increasing from 65% to 76% in the last 12 months. The proportion of businesses overall hiring young people has also risen from 73% to 79%.

CIPD head of volunteering and employability campaigns Katerina Rüdiger 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.”

She added that as well as offering placements, apprenticeships and graduate schemes, many large organisations were “taking other steps to help young people, such as engaging with local schools and colleges”. “[This] shows a genuine commitment to supporting education to work transitions,” she said.

Director of consultancy What Goes Around Doug Shaw said that as a small business owner, he has started to do more to help young people get into work by giving work placements. “After taking time to talk to young people it became clear that even as a small business, I too can play a role in helping them,” he said.