Employers positive about recruiting young workers

Employers in the UK believe they have a part to play in tackling youth unemployment, according to a report by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development. The report shows employers that have recruited a young worker in the past year are generally positive about that worker. But only 56% of employers intend to recruit a young worker in the next year. Apprenticeships were also praised, although concerns have been raised over equality issues that surround them in the UK.

Introduction

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) released a report in September 2012 called Learning to Work, examining employers’ views of young people and their attitudes towards the recruitment of young workers. The survey, based on replies from 760 workplaces, showed that a quarter of employers had not recruited any workers under the age of 26 in the previous year. Only 56% said they intended to recruit a young worker in the next 12 months.

Key findings

Key findings of the report include:

  • the majority of employers (71%) believe they have a role to play in tackling youth unemployment;
  • those businesses that do not think employers have a role to play believe government (58%) and the education system (54%) are responsible for tackling youth unemployment;
  • public sector employers are more likely than private sector organisations to have recruited at least one young person in the past 12 months;
  • larger employers are more likely to have recruited at least one young person in the past 12 months than small and medium sized businesses;
  • more than 90% of employers that have taken on a young person are either satisfied or very satisfied with the young worker that they have employed;
  • 73% of employers feel there is a business case for employing young people;
  • there was a strong correlation between businesses engaging with young people in education and an intention to recruit at least one young worker in the next year.

Encouraging employers

Ways in which businesses could be encouraged to employ more young workers were an important focus of the report.

Factors that would encourage employers to recruit young people (%)
 

All

Private sector

Public sector

Voluntary sector

New vacancies through increased demand for products and services

33

41

20

31

More job vacancies arising in an organisation for other reasons (for example, people leaving)

41

39

47

31

A change in the attitude of senior management

8

10

6

5

Creation of more access routes (for example, apprenticeships)

16

13

22

13

More applications from young people

17

15

19

25

A change in attitudes towards the industry/sector from young people (more young people wanting to work in the sector)

12

12

12

22

Greater reassurance that the education system was delivering more job-ready young people

22

21

25

11

Help with funding

24

20

29

34

An increase in the quality of applications from young people

24

23

25

30

Other

2

5

4

3

Nothing would encourage the recruitment of more young people

13

12

17

5

Source: Learning to Work, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2012

The most important factor that would increase the employment of young workers, according to respondents, was an increase in job vacancies. A quarter also identified other important factors as ‘help with funding’, ‘higher quality applicants’, and ‘assurances that the education system was delivering job-ready young people’.

Apprenticeships and equality

Employers responding to the CIPD survey were particularly positive about apprenticeships, with 80% saying that they provided high quality training to meet the needs of business. The survey found 86% agreed that they were an effective way of building skills in the business.

Reasons given for not using apprenticeships in the preceding 12 months included a lack of apprenticeships relevant to the sector, and a lack of apprenticeships tailored to the needs of their business.

The CIPD research was published just before the release of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Education For All global monitoring report Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work. The report criticised UK apprenticeships for having ‘a poor equality impact’.

UNESCO cited research showing that fewer black and minority ethnic young people gained access to apprenticeships in the UK than their white counterparts. The same report identified that female apprentices earned 22% less than their male counterparts during their apprenticeship. It also found male apprentices went on to earn a 20% wage premium after completing their training, compared with a 4% premium for women.

Sophie Gamwell, IRRU, University of Warwick

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