Youth Unemployment Must Be Tackled
Youth Unemployment Must Be Tackled Honestly and Pragmatically, Says Harvey Nash
Harvey Nash Group has unveiled its five-point action plan to encourage government, industry and academia to stop the youth unemployment juggernaut and avoid a generation lost to work.
The recommendations stem from Harvey Nashs inaugural Generation-Y roundtable event on 25th November, which saw leading policy, business and Gen-Y stakeholders debate pragmatic solutions to the youth unemployment crisis, which is nearing the one million mark, according to the latest ONS statistics. The overriding sentiment was that while widespread economic recovery will have a considerable bearing on Gen-Ys prospects, the current narrative must also evolve from scaremongering to encouragement from problem identification to problem-solving to motivate stakeholders, including Gen-Y itself, to be the change they wish to see.
The roundtable debate, which attracted participants from the CBI, Intellect and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), amongst others, identified the following calls to action for UK government, businesses, educators and members of Generation Y who have yet to find work:
1. Schools must provide better careers advice at the university level, if not much earlier in the education cycle. The quality of careers advice dispensed at university was universally bemoaned, for being too focused on the degree, versus discussing home truths about which industries are facing a shortage of candidates, and the qualifications needed to enter these sectors (for example, advanced IT, engineering and pharmaceuticals). Gen-Y must be actively encouraged to pursue a line of education that will lead into promising work and a viable career, which takes into consideration the reality of over- and under-subscribed fields of employment.
2. Government must deliver a joined-up strategy. The myriad of schemes launched to help young people find work is confusing at best and lacks a unifying vision. Moreover, there is little transparency as to which schemes have proven most effective and boast the highest take-up. In contrast, organisations at the coalface, such as Job Centres, are in need of greater investment to better serve a client base that has recently been made redundant, but nevertheless has several years skilled work experience.
3. Industry must make way for the Flexibles. Employers and employees alike must understand that the employment model that we have known will soon be a thing of the past. The rise of the contractual worker carries potential risks and rewards for those who choose a path of working one or more days a week for more than one company or client. Nevertheless, the Flexibles will be as integral to the future workforce as full-time employees, and smart, public and private sector-based incentives will go a long way towards ensuring the sustainability of this model as a viable career path, whilst bolstering UK businesses with much needed, on-the-spot help.
4. All must encourage fundamental employability skills. Generation Y must have a working knowledge of international markets be able to demonstrate clear and convincing interpersonal communication skills and display characteristics that would appeal to organisational teams. Attitude also plays a significant role: the roundtable participants discussed the importance of earnestness over a sense of entitlement in Gen Y candidates, in particular when contrasted with the job-seeking attitudes of global candidates.
5. Give work placement a chance. Employers of all sizes were encouraged to give young workers a chance to show their mettle through work placement schemes, be they paid or unpaid. Striking a fair balance will be key, so that workers get the relevant experience, but do not undertake a greater financial burden by choosing to work unpaid.
We are far from being able to deliver a silver bullet to fix the problem of youth unemployment, but the debate we held last week was a powerful reminder that there are many inspiring individuals from a cross-section of backgrounds and industries whose passionate views can bring about the change we seek, said Albert Ellis, CEO, Harvey Nash. Like Harvey Nash, they are also active participants in Gen-Y matters, and I am pleased to report that with the launch of our Y blog we can extend the deep level of engagement we experienced at the roundtable to an even broader network of stakeholders.