Why young people want to manage (and how to attract them)

23 September 2016 -


Research from CMI shows that the next generation of leaders is being let down when it comes to preparing them for the workforce. Find out what you can do to make the most of the potential emerging from the nation’s schools

Matt Scott

Nearly two-thirds of young people (63%) are interested in leading a team, according to the latest research from CMI, while 40% would like to be the boss of a company.

The survey of 1,510 young people found that the majority would like to enter into a career of management, but many employers are not doing enough to prepare them for world of work while they are still in education.

This means that one in three young people do not know about employers and jobs in their area, and some 31% don’t think they can find a job in the area they live.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said employers needed to wake up to the emerging potential of school leavers if they are to be successful.

“Enlightened employers know that developing young people isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s key to their ongoing business success,” she said. “Businesses will sink or swim based on how well they attract the most talented, and how well they tap into the diverse abilities of young people from all backgrounds.

“The next generation of talent is drawn to employers who are willing to invest in their development. Yet our 2014 research found that one in five managers say their organisation either doesn’t offer opportunities for young people to gain practical experience and skills, or does so poorly.”

”A further 35% acknowledge their organisations could be doing better,” she added.

CMI believes there is an urgent need to come up with collaborative solutions that bring employers, schools, colleges and government together, and involving parents and carers far more, to better support young people into work and the jobs they want to do.

The report, An Age of Uncertainty, also said that young people should be directly involved in shaping, designing and testing those solutions.

As such, CMI and the EY Foundation are creating an employer-backed school-to-work national youth panel to provide guidance for employers looking to develop the next generation of professional managers.

The report also recommends the formation of a new school-to-work syllabus as part of the national curriculum to expose young people to work at a younger age and start developing leadership and management skills before they enter the workforce.

Key to this development is taking students out of the classroom and immersing them in the workplace.

UKFast firmly believes that recruitment starts with schools, so they’re building an ever-increasing educational network. Currently, the company works with 45 schools, reaching 35,000 students in the Greater Manchester area.

Aaron Saxton, UKFast director of training and education and a former school teacher, said: “We hold workshops, career events, conferences and talks. Where better to promote digital careers than in schools?

“Our founder and CEO, Lawrence Jones, realised that the future of the business isn’t tomorrow or next year, it’s 10, 20 years away. If you want to build a business that will last, you need to start developing those future leaders now.”

And it works: the company was named a Top 100 Apprentice Employer for the second year running and is seeing former apprentices move into key roles within the business.

UKFast and their partner schools create tailored programmes to ensure students are inspired and get the most out of their education. That way, they come into the workplace equipped with the skills that the tech industry is crying out for.

And it is just as important to continue to support and invest young managers once they have entered the workforce to ensure they live up to their potential.

Scotrail apprentice programme manager Michelle Murray is a keen advocate of such investment, and is herself a shining example of a young manager rising through the ranks.

“As a business we like to nurture and train young people – give them the right tools to progress,” she said. “It’s great to see them work their way up in the company. I myself started working on a train at 18, then went into the training department, and eight years later I’m the Apprentice Programme Manager.”

A number of other employees, such as ScotRail’s HR Director, followed a similar path, which shows that the investment has really paid off.

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