Summer opportunities beckon for employers looking to recruit skilled young people
This summer will bring the customary influx of school and college-leavers into the job market. That makes it a time of great opportunity for businesses looking to address their skills shortages, says Warwickshire County Council's Skills for Employment manager Glenn Robinson.
Each year more than 1,000 young people aged 16-24 leave school or college seeking jobs. While some of these students leave courses at different times during the year, most will be seeking jobs in the late summer and early autumn. This is a large talent pool for businesses to access.
For example, many of the several thousand sixth-form and students aged 19+ will be looking for jobs this autumn instead of going to university. In summer 2017, 674 sixth-form leavers went into employment - nine per cent higher than the previous year. This trend is going to get stronger as more young people choose to earn while they continue learning and wish to avoid graduate debt.
Many of that number are now degree apprentices continuing to develop specialist knowledge and skills as they work. There is strong evidence that young people recruited and developed in this way by employers switching to ‘grow their own’ are more loyal and contribute to the business sooner than graduates.
Having helped Aston Martin Lagonda to develop a new degree apprenticeship programme which recruits young people from Warwickshire, the council’s Skills for Employment programme is now working with JLR to strengthen its links with schools and colleges so the business can identify talent as early as possible.
A similar change has been taking place with 16-year-old school leavers. Last year, 4.3% of our 16-year-olds went into jobs with apprenticeships compared with 2.7% in 2015 and we expect that strong trend to continue. This change has led to the number of 16 and 17-year-olds not in employment, education or training dropping to 196 in early 2018 - 1.8% of the age-group compared to 2.4% the previous year.
This means competition to recruit these young people is getting tougher for businesses. Many of these young people are now Advanced apprentices - a 20% increase in the past two years.
Another recruitment approach some employers are finding very effective is to provide a supported internship for a young person with learning disabilities. Nine of the county’s 11 special schools have pupils aged 16+ and increasing numbers of these young people are seeking to enter the workforce.
Supported internships usually last for a year and include unpaid work placements of at least six months during which time the young person is supported by a job coach funded by government and managed by the school or college the learner is from. Job coaches work with employers to identify appropriate roles to match the skills of the young person with the needs of the business, and provide support throughout the placement.
We know about several young people who have been offered permanent positions at the end of their internship as they have proved to be very focused and dedicated workers.
Warwickshire County Council aims to increase the number of supported internships countywide to at least 100 by 2020/21. To achieve this we wish to work with another 20 organisations in the next three years so we would welcome a conversation with interested businesses.
How can a business get involved with a local school or college? There are many ways with different levels of commitment required. For example, we have recently put a small engineering company in Nuneaton in touch with two of its local schools so it can arrange to visit to demonstrate how it designs and manufactures its product to small groups of pupils interested in engineering and potentially seeking employment this summer. This sort of activity is a ‘one-off’ commitment but could be repeated every year.
At the other end of the spectrum of potential activity, some businesses provide a mentor to work with a school (staff as well as pupils sometimes) regularly to make links between the curriculum and their products, and provide work-tasters or work-experience for small groups at their workplace.
The council’s Skills for Employment programme brokers introductions between business and education, so if you would like to find out how your business could get involved, please call 01926-418027 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org