How can businesses help to eliminate youth unemployment?

As the furlough scheme comes to a close, we are starting to see the looming threat of mass redundancies become a reality across the UK.

How can businesses help to eliminate youth unemployment?

As the furlough scheme comes to a close, we are starting to see the looming threat of mass redundancies become a reality across the UK. And while many call for the government to extend the furlough scheme to stem the flurry of job losses in general, there has been little support for a major element of our workforce – young people. 

Young people fuel the economy. Brought up in the digital revolution, they understand the true value of technology and how it can help a business grow. And during these tough times, technology will become even more of a lifeline for businesses’ survival. So, why is more not being done to protect them? And what can businesses do to help protect young people from the career scarring effects of the pandemic?

The threat for young people seeking work

The UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level for two years, and young people have been particularly hit hard. According to new data from the Office for National Statistics, those aged sixteen to twenty-four, are suffering the biggest drop in employment compared with other age groups. And this is only likely to get worse. 

With limited jobs available, young people at the start of their careers are in trouble. Especially in the hospitality sector – which is one of the main sectors for youth employment –  the job scene has become scarce. What’s more, thousands of young people who have already been furloughed or lost jobs, are now up against candidates with a wealth of experience. Many skilled workers who have lost their jobs are now seeking new opportunities, and it’s becoming somewhat impossible for younger people to find work. 

To solve the rising issue of unemployment across the UK, the government has laid bare its plans to help the economy bounce back – the furlough scheme, which was introduced to put employees contracts on hold, has seen almost 10 million workers benefit throughout lockdown, and now the kickstart job scheme has launched, aimed at getting younger people into work. 

How can businesses help? 

The government’s £2bn Kickstart young adult jobs scheme aims to create work for young people at risk of long-term unemployment. In a nutshell, it pays employers to create six-month work placements for sixteen to twenty-four year-olds, covering overheads and wages for at least twenty-five hours a week. And not only does the scheme bring in endless benefits for young people, but also for the business itself if used effectively.

Apprenticeships can also massively help a business. By training apprentices from scratch, it works out as far more cost effective than bringing in and hiring already skilled staff, which in turn reduces overall training and recruitment costs. Apprenticeships  also help companies recruit from outside their ‘original box’ of standard candidates. The experienced, older and the more ‘obvious’ choice, may not be the solution we need for a speedy economic recovery.

As digital natives, young people also bring in a wealth of knowledge and understanding businesses may not have known they needed. The use of technology has been a key differentiator for the survival of businesses – those who have failed to innovate have unfortunately been left behind. Young people understand the need for technology, and can bridge the skills gap for any business who can’t currently unlock technology’s true value – which right now is vital for businesses as we head into the next normal. 

Investing in our future workforce

The Kickstart job scheme is designed for businesses to encourage young people into their workplace, which paves the way for a bright future – for not only the younger generation, but also for our economy. 

Take B&Q for example. The company has pledged to transfer £100,000 of expiring levy funds to the Transfer to Transform scheme in the Solent area, which is a hub that provides the chance for businesses to help support each other through apprenticeships. Domino’s has also said it would create 1,000 apprenticeships, using the government’s Kickstart scheme, in hopes of helping young people find careers. These are two well renowned companies who are investing in our future workforce, but there is plenty more that can be done. 

If businesses are unable to take on apprenticeships – many simply don’t have the funds or capacity – there are other ways to help young people. Online resources, including video workshops, are a great way to teach young people about the industry and what they can expect if they choose to go down that specific route. It’s also a good idea to keep the companies’ blog up to date, and share useful insight and resources for young people to study. 

Offering work experience is another way to help young people. If businesses are unable to take on candidates because of monetary issues, a week’s work experience is another thing a young person can add onto their CV and LinkedIn profile – any experience they can get, will improve their chances of landing a role. 

The current market is uncertain, but if one this is clear, now is the time for businesses to think about our future workforce and how we can best help them. Doing so will help the economy long-term, and will in turn create a bright future for young aspirational job seekers entering the scene

Dean Sadler
Dean Sadler

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