Benefits for businesses that choose to invest in the talent of tomorrow

1.07m equates to 15 per cent of all young people in the UK and, what’s more, ONS (Office for National Statistics) stats show that over half of these are actively looking for employment.

Many of our young people are left in a ‘catch 22’ situation – they can’t get a job without experience, but can’t get experience without a job. However, there’s plenty of evidence that taking on young people is beneficial for businesses.

Young people can bring fresh ideas and approaches to the table, and their perspective is particularly valuable where markets are rapidly changing or rely on a youthful customer base. As an example of this, research company GfK recently released a report looking into skills gaps within the technology industry. They found that 77 per cent of Tech City businesses could grow faster if the right skills were available. Younger employees shed new light on current trends, helping businesses keep ahead with the latest technology or working practices within their sector.

Alongside these benefits, younger people – whether they’ve recently left school, college or university – are cost effective to recruit and to train. Offering work placements can serve as an informal trial period both for businesses and the candidate.

Investing in young people brings returns in commitment and loyalty. Providing them with the chance to learn and gain experience opens many doors, which is invaluable in today’s job market. Nurturing and unlocking young people’s talent and realising their potential motivates and engages them even further. People who have bought in to the company values and culture from the start, and who have trained and progressed with a business, are more likely to stay with that business.

Just 15 per cent of employers offer apprenticeships, and yet 80 per cent of those who do agree that they make the workplace more productive. The average apprenticeship increases business productivity by £214 per week, with these gains including increased profits, lower prices and better products. 

Recent research from Investors in People (IIP) shows that almost half of British workers – over 14m people – are considering moving jobs over the next year, as the upturn in the economy increases confidence in the job market. This means many businesses will be looking to recruit. Instead of looking for a ‘like-for-like’ replacement, here is an opportunity for businesses to reconsider how best to structure their organisation to reflect today’s marketplace.

Statistics show that most businesses find education leavers well prepared for the world of work: a staggering 84 per cent of companies reported that university graduates were readily employable and 72 per cent finding so of 17 – 18 year olds after leaving college.

Developing a talent pipeline is important for businesses. Not only can it help with succession planning; it reduces the risks associated with unplanned retirements, staff absences and skills shortages. Investing in young people is also proven to attract new business and build a positive reputation – 81 per cent of consumers would prefer to use a company that employs apprentices.

IIP recommends that companies should try building a ‘youth policy’ into routine business planning to ensure they are nurturing and cultivating the business leaders of tomorrow, as well as opening the business up to the proven benefits that come from employing young people.

IIP accredited organisation Pyronix is an example of a company that is successfully doing this. The globally recognised manufacturer of Security Equipment has a history of recruiting young people and it has seen the benefits in terms of performance, loyalty and business growth. The company has even collaborated with Sheffield Hallam University to offer a three-month graduate internship. One such candidate on the programme joined the marketing team and quickly became a valuable employee. Her language skills in particular contributed to Pyronix’s expansion, allowing the organisation to market in Germany. At the end of her internship she was offered a full-time position and is still with the organisation today.

Julie Kenny, Chairman and Chief Executive of Pyronix, comments: “As a young person I was given the opportunity to train as a legal secretary and it changed my life. Someone believed in me which gave me the confidence, motivation and skills to better myself. Pyronix has a long history of recruiting young people and I have seen real benefits to my business.”

Working with the IIP Framework can help you to invest in young people. We can provide guidance and information on available funding to help with the training costs associated with apprenticeships, as well as direct you towards the resources which help you source suitable candidates.

Paul Devoy is Head of Investors in People.

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