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The future talent challenge for employers

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The world is changing at break-neck speed – so the way we educate young people about how to navigate between the worlds of education and the workplace has to change too. At the moment there is a huge skills mismatch. McKinsey’s report, from Education to Employment, confirms the paradox of, on the one hand, a global youth unemployment problem, and yet employers are reporting key skills shortages.

Employers that we speak to at Changeboard, like National Grid’s CEO, Steve Holliday, are championing collective action and encouraging business leaders to work together to address this. Even though there is fierce competition for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.

There is a need for all employers to collaborate to produce enough young talent here in the UK. This is particularly true when it come to engineering, where there is a drive to encourage girls to think about skills they might need. It’s all about helping young people make the right choices and pursue the skills that UK plc will need in the next 20 years to remain competitive.

If we look at the employer side of this mismatch, there is overwhelming evidence that they lack confidence in the skills system. A CBI Education and Skills survey showed that 43% of employers were dissatisfied with school leavers’ knowledge of their chosen career path with a suggestion that children are not being given a realistic picture of the world of work.

Not surprisingly, as a result of these future talent challenges research by Changeboard amongst HR Directors showed that 90% employers agreed that they should play a role in providing careers advice to young people. Question is, how do they do this?

Put simply, young people want better careers advice – specifically they want employers to be more involved and to have access to employers from a young age. Deloitte research shows that 95% of young people said they would like employers to be more involved in providing information about careers and jobs.
 
When asked what things education should focus on to prepare for a chosen career the research showed that 60% of young people choose career advice, work experience or employment skills. However, around half feel that the careers advice being offered is not currently working for them. In addition, 71% would like careers advice to start from a much earlier age.
 
All the evidence suggests that young people need advice sooner to support the key decisions that they are making during their education – which subjects to choose or discount, for GCSE, A level, to stay at school, pursue vocational qualifications or higher education. Employers, from the very smallest to the largest of businesses, must find ways to participate in this parallel “careers advice” education process that young people are so desperate for.

Young people and parents need better data about career options and training pathways so that they can make informed choices. McKinsey also suggest that education to employment solutions need to scale up – apprenticeships have traditionally provided hands-on experience, but there are not enough spaces to meet demand. They also say that technology, the internet, and serious game simulation will almost certainly lie at the heart of sustainable solutions.

The transition from education to the workplace is one of the hardest that anyone makes in their life. The more effective employers are at providing bridges for young people to explore and discover career and training pathways, the more efficient they will become at harnessing the human capital of the future. As Hamlet once said, “the readiness is all.”

Jim Carrick-Birtwell is CEO of plotr and co-founder of Changeboard. 

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