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Sarah Tulk: This is how to get more young people into jobs

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The head of Funding Policy Implementation (Pre Employment) at the Skills Funding Agency speaks out

How can the gap be bridged between young people looking for work and businesses look to recruit, but unable to find the skillsets they need? What can businesses be doing to tackle the talent mismatch?

“The importance of “work readiness” in securing your first job is well-known amongst employers, but remains a mystery to many young people who are struggling to enter the workplace due to a lack of skills and experience.  At the same time reports of skills shortages are increasing as the economy improves.  New research from ICM Research now indicates that by providing opportunities for young people to develop their interview skills and get some work experience under their belts, thousands more could secure employment.

The survey points to how Traineeships can give young people the skills employers are looking for. Over half (59%) of the employers polled said they had hired young people into entry level positions in the last five years, with 54% of these saying this was because the young recruit had prepared well for the interview. Furthermore, two in every five of all employers surveyed said they would be more likely to recruit a young person or school leaver who had done at  least six weeks’ high quality work experience.

Traineeshipswere launched last year to help young people aged 16 to 23 (inclusive) improve their employability prospects and unlock their potential. A Traineeship is an education and training programme with a work placement that is focused on giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for.  At its core are work preparation training, English and maths for those who need it, and a high quality work experience placement.

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Traineeships are delivered by training organisations and funded by the government, with employers providing the valuable work experience placement and interview as part of the programme. Traineeships last anything from six weeks to a maximum of six months with the content tailored to the needs of the individual. The work experience placement lasts from six weeks to five months. Employers need to commit to a high quality work experience placement, including an exit interview – or a job interview if a role becomes available – and a reference at the end of the placement. Employers are not required to pay young people taking part in Traineeships but are encouraged to support trainees with expenses such as transport and meals.

The ICM Research study also suggests the introduction of Traineeships could even encourage employers to create more jobs for young people. Almost half (49%) of employers polled would consider creating a brand new role for a young person that impressed them during a work experience placement.   

The poll also provides employer insight into the other ways Traineeships can help young people improve their chances of securing work. It finds: 

·       Three quarters (74%) of employers surveyed would be more likely to recruit a young person or school leaver if they had prepared well for an interview

·       Nearly half (48%) of the employers polled would be more likely to recruit a young person or school leaver if they had a good reference from an employer or training organisation

·       45% of the firms surveyed say an eye-catching and well-thought out CV would improve a young candidate’s chances of securing role.

The survey went on to show that two fifths (42%) of firms would like to do more to help young people in their area into work, whilst a further study of young people highlights their eagerness to improve their employability prospects. 63% say they want to improve their confidence, whilst 57% want to increase their skills to do the job and 46% want assistance in developing skills to deal with other people. 

Hundreds of employers, including big names such as the BBC, BT, Jaguar Landrover and Virgin Media, as well as a host of smaller businesses, have already committed to helping young people through the Traineeship programme. 

Employers can visit bitly.com/Traineeships2014 to find out how they can take on their first trainee and help develop talented young people with the practical skills they need for the workplace. 

NOW READ: Mark Boleat: Want the best young talent? Paid internships could be the answer

Mark Boleat, City of London Corporation Policy Chairman




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