The number of organisations who employ young people (aged 16-24) has risen to almost eight in ten (79%), compared to less than three quarters (73%) last year. This is according to the latest Learning to Work survey report from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, launched during National Apprenticeship Week, also highlights that small and medium sized employers (SMEs) are lagging behind larger organisations when it comes to offering opportunities and engaging with young people.
The survey of more than 850 HR professionals, conducted as part of the CIPD’s Learning to Work programme, found that less than six in ten (58%) of SMEs currently employ anyone aged 16-24, compared to more than nine in ten large organisations (93%). Although the percentage of employers that currently offer entry-level opportunities aimed at young people has substantially increased over the last 12 months, up to 76% from 65% in 2013, SMEs are offering far fewer opportunities. Our findings show that:
• The number of employers that report offering apprenticeships has risen dramatically to almost half (47%), compared to less than a third (31%) at the end of 2013. However, SMEs are less than half as likely to offer apprenticeships, with only 26% reporting that they do compared to 62% of larger organisations.
• Work experience is the most popular entry-level opportunity offered by employers; 64% of larger organisations currently offer placements compared to 39% of SMEs.
• The number of graduate schemes offered by SME employers is currently very low, with only 11% of SMEs stating that they offer them, compared to 51% of large employers.
• SMEs are also less likely to engage with local schools and colleges. Currently over two-thirds (70%) of large employers work with local schools by doing things like arranging work place visits, offering work experience or providing volunteers to give talks in local schools, whereas just over a third (38%) of SMEs do the same.
Katerina Rüdiger, Head of Volunteering and Employability Campaigns at the CIPD, commented: “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. Large employers in particular are more likely to offer a range of entry level opportunities compared to this time last year, including Apprenticeships, graduate schemes and work experience placements. Many are also taking other steps to help young people, such as engaging with local schools and colleges, which shows a genuine commitment to supporting education to work transitions.
“However, as a high proportion of jobs in the UK are created by SMEs, it’s essential that they are also equipped to bring in and nurture younger workers and have the information they need to create a clear youth engagement strategy. Only once they too are engaged with tackling youth unemployment can we be confident that the problem has been truly cracked.”
Doug Shaw, Director at What Goes Around Limited, highlights how, even as one of the UK’s many micro-businesses, there are still ways to provide opportunities for young people and help broaden their understanding of the world of work: “Big businesses are often seen as being in a better position to provide opportunities and support to young people as they enter the labour market. However, 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. I’ve recently started offering student work placements and also signed up to Inspiring the Future, a fantastic initiative which allows schools and colleges to invite volunteers in to give careers talks and CV and interview advice sessions.”
In the coming months, the CIPD will be publishing a toolkit to help SMEs with their youth engagement strategies. The CIPD also promotes employer engagement with young people via the Steps Ahead Mentoring programme, which matches HR professionals with young jobseekers to help them with their job search skills. More than 2,300 CIPD members are already signed up as mentors and hundreds of young people have been helped to start their career as a result. Find out more and read some of the inspiring case studies at www.cipd.co.uk/stepsaheadmentoring
Full press release on www.cipd.co.uk