CIPD – Employers are from Mars, young people are from Venus

Interesting implications for how employers and young potential recruits should approach each other in an effort to more easily meet. CIPD research reveals a gulf in expectations between young people and employers that is contributing to high levels of youth unemployment.

There is a clear mismatch between employers’ expectations of young people during the recruitment process and young people’s understanding of what is expected of them. This is hindering young people’s access to the labour market, contributing to the high rates of youth unemployment (currently almost one in five 16-24 years old is unemployed*) and fuelling a ticking time bomb of skills shortages for UK businesses, who may be unwittingly limiting their access to this important and diverse pool of talent. These are the findings of the latest research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), being launched today at a joint event with Business in the Community (BITC).

The report, Employers are from Mars, young people are from Venus: Addressing the young people/jobs mismatch, identifies a number of flash points that are hindering young people from finding work, including:

  • Many employers state that they require ‘experience’, even for relatively junior roles, which then creates a vicious cycle for those young people who do not have access to work opportunities. This also prevents businesses from taking advantage of a diverse talent pool and can result in paying above the odds for skills they could have honed internally.
  • A lack of feedback, or even acknowledgement, after applying for jobs is de-motivating and crushing the confidence of many young people. On the flipside, some employers are overwhelmed by a large volume of ‘scattergun’ applications from young people who have done nothing to research and tailor their applications to the specific role.
  • Selection and recruitment processes are often lengthy and not very transparent, meaning that young people have no idea about the stages involved or what they should do to prepare. This, and failure to tailor interviews for people who have no prior experience of work (currently only one in four employers report that they adapt their recruitment practices for young people**), often means that employers are left disappointed by a process that does not get the most out of young people. When polled, more than three quarters (77%) of frontline Jobcentre Plus staff felt that employers should adapt their recruitment practices to make them more youth friendly.
  • Poor careers advice and guidance in schools, coupled with a lack of support available to young people during the transition from education to work, means that many young people have little understanding of the world of work and don’t know where to turn to or how to improve their chances of finding a job.

The report, which draws on a range of sources, including interviews with high profile employers, young people, training providers and Jobcentre Plus advisers, is being launched today alongside tips for recruiting young people, aimed at employers.

Commenting, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive at the CIPD, says: “When it comes to recruitment it can feel as though young people and employers are on completely different planets. Too many young people are struggling to find their first job, whereas many employers are finding it difficult to get the skills they need. This mismatch needs to be addressed, not only to reduce youth unemployment and the long-term impact it can have on young people, but also to ensure UK businesses are equipped with the right talent for the future.”

“Many employers tell us that they want to do more to help young people and we have today published research and a set of recommendations for businesses on how to adapt recruitment practices to make them more youth friendly. This includes simple tips such as undertaking interviews that build confidence rather than focus on past work experience, providing clear information about the recruitment process and acknowledging applications.”

“It is also clear that young people are not getting the careers advice and guidance they need to help make the right choices and understand how best to apply for jobs. Policy makers need to do more to ensure that careers advice and guidance are embedded into the national curriculum with more support for young people during the transition phase between education and employment. This will ensure that young people are better prepared for the world of work and can do more to help themselves during the recruitment process.”

Graham Bann MVO, Executive Director, Talent and Skills, at BITC, adds: “It is great to see a report which tackles a problem at the heart of the skills system in the UK namely; how businesses are failing to engage effectively with the next generation of talent. It even better to see that this report highlights the practical steps which business can take to ┬ámake sure they get this right and attract the brightest and most innovative young people into their businesses.”

Over the coming months the CIPD will be working with the Education and Employers Taskforce on a scheme to get volunteers into schools to provide CV and interview workshops. The CIPD will also be developing a set of recommendations on recruitment targeted at young people.

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