3 ways we are failing to engage young people in employment

3 ways we are failing to engage young people in employment

Earlier this week I attended the launch evening for Youth Employment UK’s second Youth Voice Census - a new survey which has doubled in size since it’s launch last year, with over 3,000 young people sharing their experiences of employment and the career options available to them.

Here I share 3 ways in which I think we are still failing to engage young people in employment by choosing to ignore their voice:

A lack of effort to personalise the candidate experience

Young people are looking for career opportunities that match their skill set and help them to work towards their strengths. Personalising information, and being transparent in the work young people will be expected to do when they join you is therefore now an essential part of your brand and attraction strategies. This goes much further than job descriptions. It’s about using every moment where a candidate ‘meets’ your brand as an opportunity to tell them something new. It also means taking their context into consideration. With the vast amount of events provided for young people focusing on large towns and cities, as a result hidden pockets of talent in places that many employers treat as places that are too hard to reach are missed. By failing to make the effort to visit a school or college because it takes your employees away from their desk for too long, recruitment cold spots will stay cold.

Information filters that create gender biases

The census found that the adults influencing young people presume to know better and are filtering the information and opportunities shared based upon gender. Young women are more likely to have had academic focused career conversations five or more times than young men. Whether intentional or not dangerous presumptions are being made - largely that women are better suited to university, and men to vocational career routes such as apprenticeships. The tables are in need of turning - young women could be encouraged to visit more employers and colleges, and to undertake enterprise activities, whereas young men could receive more mentoring, access to CV workshops and encouraged to visit more universities.

The presumption that being aware of an option leads to choosing it

The most positive message from the census was evidence of a huge rise in awareness when it comes to apprenticeships - a 25% increase since last year’s report, up to 83%. However, the university route is twice as likely to have been discussed with them five times or more, the measure of success if such a thing exists when it comes to careers advice and guidance. Of those young people currently in college or sixth form, 6% of 16 year olds and 9% of 17 year olds are planning an apprenticeship as their next step.

Parity of choice still has some way to go. I think we often forget how much easier it is to engage university students vs those still studying at school, and with over 50% of the respondents of the census coming from 14-16 year olds, those wanting their voice to be heard comes from those searching for inspiration ahead of their first moments of choice that will ultimately determine how and where they take their first career steps into the world of work.

It’s time to take action.

Download the full 2019 Youth Voice Census report here.

Find out more about being recognised as a Youth Friendly Employer.


Photo by Maria Krisanova on Unsplash

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