The Class of '16 explains why they don't know about your job vacancies

12 October 2016 -


Company bosses must work harder to promote job opportunities to young workers, as more than a third of career starters are unaware employers and jobs in their local area, according to CMI’s new report

Jermaine Haughton

Whether it be at 16, 18 or 21, starting your professional life in the working world is both an exciting and daunting prospect.

After years of studiously completing exams, coursework and class presentations, the working world is the next step into adult life, where young workers can develop their skills to build a rich, fulfilling and interesting career.

However, one of the most startling barriers facing many young people, according to CMI’s Age of Uncertainty research, is that some qualified, eager and well-educated young people are not made aware of the job vacancies in their own boroughs, cities or regions.

Some 35% of the study’s respondents say they do not know about employers and jobs in their local area.

Before becoming a Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice at multinational franchised motor dealers Pendragon PLC, 19 year old Thomas Summerfield from Cheshire said that he, and his peers, have always known what type of careers and jobs they wanted, but employers had not made it clear how they could meet the requirements to find and pass the recruitment process.

He said: “There’s too little information available about what employers really want, and my friends and I really struggled to work out what the best path might be. We know what we want to do with our lives, it’s just that no-one is telling us about how to get there when we’re at school.

“I only found out about the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship by doing my own research, we didn’t have any employers come to our school to talk to us about our futures.”

The nations and regions where young people were most likely to say they didn’t know about local employers and job opportunities were the South East (39%), London (38%) and South West (37%).

With only 58% of young people saying that they managed to arrange work experience through their school or college, young people are also using an increasing number of other channels to find work experience: just over a quarter (26%) got it through family or friends, and one in five got their most recent work experience directly through an employer (21%).

And the desire to work among 16-21 year old’s clearly evident. According to the study, 98% of those interviewed have had some form of exposure to the workplace, with 84% completing unpaid work experience.

The lack of information on offer to career starters is potentially detrimental to employers, however, as a failure to advertise to the widest possible set of potential applicants will eventually lead to a restriction on the quality and diversity of applications.

Young people’s limited awareness of the range of work options is an issue that may explain their lack of confidence about finding a job close to where they live.

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are considerably more likely than their peers to lack confidence in getting a job locally (33% in social groups DE compared to 25% in AB).

Especially in the manufacturing and construction industries, many British firms are reporting problems with recruiting the right workers with the aptitude and skillset plug the UK skills gap, as companies face increased competition globally and baby boomers filter out of the full time workforce.

A recent UKCES report underlined the crisis, stating that one in four jobs are unfilled due to skills shortage.


A major reason why job vacancies are not being widely-enough publicised to young people is because the importance of who a young person knows can dictate how much they know and how successful they are in locating and completing work experience, especially in their desired fields.

The CMI research shows that the ‘who you know, and not what you know’ mentality is still partly in place, and those young people from wealthier families in areas with a greater variety of opportunities are more likely to find work experience in their local area.

Equally, the study suggests the apparent decline in schools helping to organise work experience is particularly concerning for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are more reliant on schools to broker these opportunities, versus their peers.

Even those who have found work, or decided on a career path, as a result of family connections, admitted that they would be less likely to have found those opportunities if it were not for these connections.

Overall, three-quarters (75%) of young people who have not done work experience or an internship would like the opportunity to do so. But around half of them (52%) simply don’t know how or where to get it and 69% would like more support in finding it.

A 21-year-old man told researchers: “I feel that schools concentrate wholly on exams and the school curriculum. There needs to be more opportunity for work experience and my view is that this needs to be integrated into the school curriculum.”

What can be done?

With the CMI report showing access to work experience opportunities isn’t always evenly distributed, employers will need to play an even bigger role in closing the gap between themselves and young people, providing a comprehensive insight into their company's, objectives and their workforces.

Louise Coles, youth panel member of the EY Foundation, aged 18 said: “More needs to be done for young people, especially from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. It is really hard to get good-quality work experience when you don’t have the connections, and even harder if you don’t know the options available to you.

“I believe that we need to remove these barriers for all young people. We need the right information to make the right choices, more opportunities for paid work experience and the chance to learn about different career pathways.”

By offering mentoring, having talks at schools and universities, providing workshops to help young workers hone their skills in a fun environment, or even using social media tools, employers can make great strides to publicise the opportunities at their organisation to those applicants who cannot rely on personal networks - and get a step ahead in recruiting the best young talent.

Summerfield, now a service advisor at Pendragon, said: “I only found out about the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship by doing my own research, we didn’t have any employers come to our school to talk to us about our futures. It’d be great to see schools and employers team up like that to help more people find out about the different options.

“I feel very lucky to have settled on the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, it not only lays a path for me to move into management but also provides the reassurance of a steady wage while I study. I know if more of my friends had been made aware of degree apprenticeships then they too would have chosen this over a traditional university education.”

Multinational logistics company DHL Express is one of those firms attempting to inform and educate young people on careers at its organisation by partnering with schools and creating activities like industry days that aim to give students an all-round understanding of the world of work.

Sharon Davies, corporate affairs director at DHL Express, who advises managers to engage directly with schools to better understand their priorities, explained: “Employers should sit down with schools to help them understand what they offer. The more businesses can help make it easier for schools, the better.

“It’s about working together in the most flexible way possible, so that both the school and the employer can keep running ‘business as usual’.”


Read the full report and find out how you can do more to engage with young people, including case studies from companies making a success of recruiting young managers

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