How to focus on developing future generations

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It has never been more important for organisations to focus their efforts on attracting and developing future talent. Our latest Resourcing and Talent Planning survey, in partnership with Hays, shows that three-quarters of employers have experienced recruitment difficulties in the past year and four fifths feel that competition for talent has increased over the past two years.

With increasing recruitment difficulties and skills shortages, coupled with the current high levels of youth unemployment, it’s time that employers really need to turn their attention to the next generation.

The business case for employing young people is obvious. Younger workers can offer many benefits and skills to employers, including: bringing in new skills and fresh ideas, willingness to learn, motivation, energy and optimism, diversifying employer brands and forming part of future talent pipelines. The sustained increase in skills shortages means that the investment in future talent is more crucial than ever.

The good news is that we’ve already seen an increase in organisations actively trying to attract talent of all ages; nearly a third of employers have increased the number of 16-24 year olds they employ compared with a year ago.

Our latest Labour Market Outlook Survey (August 2015) also revealed that employers are changing their resourcing strategies and putting greater effort into in-work progression and especially developing new young talent which is very encouraging.

The three most common responses to addressing hard-to-fill vacancies are currently upskilling, hiring apprentices and recruiting graduates, likely driven by the tightening labour market. There also seems to be an increased understanding from employers that they need to recruit and develop young talent to limit the potential of future damaging labour shortages.

But the bad news is that few employers agree that the current education system is meeting their skill requirements to any great extent and many are responding with their own approach to accessing and developing the skills of younger workers.

According to our survey, nearly half of employers offer apprenticeships a third currently offer internship schemes, while a fifth sponsor students through university or offer post-A-level entry routes. We’re therefore encouraging greater collaboration between schools, colleges and employers, with the support of government, to help better prepare and equip young people for the world of work.

Attracting and developing future talent: practical steps

So what can employers do to attract the best young talent into your organisation and develop them in ways which help to retain them and add clear value to your business?

  • Assess your organisation’s current skills. Find out where the gaps are and what skills will be needed in the future as circumstances and your business change. If you actively engage with young people now, you can start to build a strong pipeline of future talent, which can put you ahead of your competitors and secure your future growth.
  • Think about designing a variety of roles for young people entering your organisation, such as apprenticeships, school-leaver and graduate programmes, as well internships and work experience placements. And, don’t wait for young people to come to you - go to them. Engage with local schools, career fairs, events and universities and let young people know about the career opportunities you offer.
  • It’s also important to remember that it’s not just about bringing young people into your organisation, but about developing them and retaining them as well. The CIPD’s (2015) Developing the Next Generation research with employers suggests key areas for development include building confidence, communication skills and commercial capability. It also highlights the importance of being aware of generational learning preferences. Young people in particular are keen to learn from practical, hands-on experiences combined with having the right support in place. While formal learning and qualifications have their place, it’s important to incorporate plenty of opportunities to translate theory into practice.
  • Finally, put systems in place which facilitate shared learning and knowledge transfer between generations. Our survey highlighted the fact that half of employers are consciously trying to transfer the knowledge of employees over 50 into other parts of the workforce.

About Claire McCartney

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