Employers improving engagement with young jobseekers, finds CIPD

24 July 2014 -


Research indicates that bosses are beginning to adjust their recruitment practices to make them more “youth friendly”

Jermaine Haughton

Employers are making their recruitment processes more “youth friendly” by offering tailored career development to 18 to 24 year-olds, along with improved engagement. Employers: Learning to Work with Young People – a new report from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) – suggests that there is an increased willingness to target young workers through more accessible channels, such as Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, nine tenths of employers using social media to recruit young people said they no longer ask for specific qualifications when hiring for entry-level roles, in order to remove barriers and create a more open process.

ITV Talent Scheme manager Marsha Witter told CIPD researchers that the broadcaster’s use of social media is crucial to advertising its apprenticeship, work experience and graduate-level opportunities. “Social media is essential for attracting young people,” she said. “We use mostly Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to reach young people – we even have a hashtag, #itvapprentice – and provide a link through to our ITV careers site. It’s really working for us. Employers shouldn’t be afraid of it – embrace it.”

The broader initiative Inspiring the Future – coordinated by the Education and Employers Taskforce – has prompted 35% of employers to volunteer their time in local schools and colleges, up from 29% two years ago, with up to 13,000 professionals ready to talk to pupils about their potential career paths. And CIPD notes that, in addition to changing recruitment practices, a rise in apprenticeships has had a noticeable impact. The report shows that the number of apprenticeships has more than doubled, to more than half a million – with 14% of employers planning to introduce “earn as you learn” roles this year.

By advertising roles through youth-friendly channels and getting young people to think about their skills and career paths from an early age, employers are becoming more focused on nurturing new talent, the research shows – a watershed that could sustain a continued reduction in youth unemployment.

Barclays early careers director Mike Thompson said in the report: “At Barclays we have radically changed our approach to talent management and youth employment over the past two years. What we wanted was a complete culture change to address the fact that we had got out of the habit of bringing in and developing young people, especially those without academic qualifications. I would strongly recommend this approach to other employers – the success of our programmes speaks for itself.”

However, youth unemployment stood at an average 17.8% from March to May 2014: still significantly higher than the 13.8% recorded between December 2007 and February 2008, just prior to the economic crash.

That said, CIPD head of skills and policy campaigns Katerina Rudiger said that many recruiters have moved away from stereotyping young people as “clueless and lazy”, and have instead adapted their systems to make the education-to-work transition smoother.

“The number of HR professionals who are eager to volunteer to help young jobseekers and school students is particularly encouraging, as is the increasing number of access routes – such as apprenticeships – being offered,” she explained. “The employers we have worked with as part of our Learning to Work programme tell us that young people are a real asset to the workplace and bring unique skills and creativity. Those employers who do engage are creating future-ready talent pipelines and will be more likely to have the employee skills they need to succeed.”

CIPD’s study has emerged in the same week as a separate report by centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, which argued that private and voluntary-sector recruiters should be allowed to help publicly funded job centres place people into long-term employment. This is further highlighted by Rudiger’s claims that the government should do more to improve careers services.

Read CMI’s open letter to the Telegraph, arguing that managers should be more focused on the future – including by developing young talent.

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