How can businesses better support young people?
While the furlough scheme has been a lifeline for many during the lockdown period,
we are beginning to see the impact of the scheme coming to a close - mass redundancies and a surge in unemployment. To add to this perfect storm, for many young people, this will be career scaring. With fewer graduate schemes and entry level roles on the job market, there is a much smaller window of opportunity for young people looking to kick start their career.
Many businesses and HR teams have already been forced to adapt their recruitment processes; taking interviews online and choosing candidates who already have all the skills they need, as they cannot afford to train up those with limited experience in the current market. While the launch of the chancellor’s kickstart job scheme to create more jobs for young people will hopefully provide a glimmer of light for young workers and entrepreneurs, HR teams still need to provide essential support to hungry young candidates, in order to help them succeed in the post-covid job market .
The decline of youth employment
The sharp rise in unemployment across the UK has led to an overcrowded and challenging job market for young people. Completed redundancies could reach 735,000 this autumn as the furlough scheme comes to a close. For young workers, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out against the crowd, as they are up against skilled and experienced workers who have been let go from roles, that in many cases they have held for years.
Added to this, the number of available jobs is also shrinking across certain sectors. Take the hospitality, retail and travel sector for example, where many young people start their careers. The industry has been hit hard by Covid, and the number of roles needed in the industry is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels any time soon.
Further, the younger generation are battling the effects Covid-19 has had on their education - university courses have been put on hold, and classes have been taken online. Many young people use university as time to figure out their career goals, and to gain as much knowledge as possible to prepare themselves for their future careers. But for many, this has been put on hold or cancelled.
What’s more, businesses have reduced the amount of graduate schemes, reassigning the funds they would have used to train aspiring young individuals, to invest into their current employees. All this means thousands of students who have just graduated are now left in limbo - Grad schemes are a gateway to further job opportunities and without this security, many have been left with an uncertain future.
HR’s role in supporting young workers
With little experience in the field, it’s a scary time for young people beginning their career. Using tools such as video interviewing or live chat bots, HR departments can interview candidates faster and more consistently. For young people, who are very used to using video chats and DM, this means they can comfortably approach interviews at ease, using tech they’re well-versed in, all from the comfort of their own home. Many will find attending interviews on video, instead of in person less nerve-racking. So by HR departments encouraging the use of these tools, they’ll be helping candidates approach interviews in a much more confident manner - increasing their chance of securing the role.
Onboarding software is also available to help manage the welcoming of new employees, and get them ready for their first day. For young people, this will help them transition smoothly into their new working environment - which for many is totally new ground. It’s important that HR teams make them feel at ease when starting their new role, as this will help encourage growth and confidence during their time at the company and help them create future opportunities.
Applicant tracking systems cut time to recruit and find the best candidates quickly, which for young people is crucially important. As businesses face a surge of applications, they need to be quick at narrowing down who are the most appropriate candidates - by taking too much time deciding on who to take to the next round, young job seekers may be missing out on other opportunities that are more suited to them.
In order to utilise technology to its fullest, HR teams should provide additional support to help guide young people through the process. Online support including blogs, video posts or open webinars, that explain how to use particularly specialist software will allow candidates to best prepare themselves prior to interviews or completing an online application. By explaining what is expected from them and how to best apply, both candidates and employers will be able to find the right role/candidate best suited to them.
Reshaping the future workforce
The government's kickstart job scheme and the apprenticeship levy are giving young people a glimpse of hope for their future. But it’s now in the hands of businesses to take action, and utilise these schemes and technology to get more young people into the workplace. Not only will they help to tackle skill shortages, they can be tailored to specific job roles - making them flexible to the needs of businesses.
HR teams need to be accepting of the range of talent out there. In a market that's swamped with individuals seeking work, including people who have been made recently redundant, it’s important for businesses not to rule out young candidates simply because they do not have years and years of experience. As they do in fact bring many qualities and skills that companies are in need of as we move into the next normal.
It’s these businesses, who are led by young entrepreneurs and technology, that will help pave the way for generations to come, and help our economy bounce back.