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Employers urged to recruit disaffected young people to get them into the workforce and to make them feel part of society

UKbusinesses must take more responsibility for getting today's disengaged youth into work and integrated back into society, according to the Adecco Group, the UK's largest recruiter.

The Adecco Group and a number of prominent business leaders are calling on employers to play a greater role in engaging with those on the periphery of the workforce, highlighting the benefits for both their business and the wider society. The recruiter suggests that by introducing channels to help this section of society into employment and by engaging with young people early, employers could potentially benefit from a currently untapped talent pool.

A recent series of roundtable discussions hosted by the Adecco Group and attended by business and industry leaders from organisations including the FSB, Lloyds Banking Group, Deloitte and Henley Business School, explored the issue of engagement within UK employment and identified the important role that employers must play in bringing young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, into employment and, more generally, into society.

Chris Moore, Managing Director of Adecco Group Solutions, comments: "The issue of how to engage with this country's disenfranchised youth is one that affects us all, not just politicians or minority communities - and employers have a pivotal role to play in getting young people, many of whom may have never worked before, into the world of work.

"Buzz words like engagement and diversity sometimes get a bad press for being too woolly or vague, but organisations should recognise that creating a more inclusive workforce can actually drive business performance and profitability. It's not just about demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility, it's about the bottom line."

Widening the talent pool: the business case

With many industries suffering from skills gaps, organisations must identify ways to attract and nurture raw talent, such as through apprenticeship schemes or work experience programmes. This was recognised as an important step to get more young people into work and something that, if done well, can actually give companies a real competitive edge. Further, by engaging with a broader range of the public and providing opportunities for 'first time workers', employers can benefit from making their organisations more representative of their customer base.

Chris Moore added, "People tend, often unconsciously, to recruit people like themselves in terms of attitudes and values, leaving the company with a very narrow worldview. Having a workforce with diverse backgrounds and experiences provides fresh perspectives, which could improve performance or boost growth, for instance by acting as fuel for innovation or providing a well-rounded approach to problem-solving."

How do we get the disenfranchised into the workplace?

Attendees at the roundtable discussions identified a number of challenges, with getting disengaged young people into work. One particular area of concern was the reluctance from some employers to consider taking on young people through schemes such as apprenticeships.

Andy Wilson, Principal of Westminster Kingsway College highlighted that demand often exceeds supply when it comes to apprenticeships for young people and that this is down to employers who are reluctant to provide the necessary opportunities:  "We have hundreds of young people who want to be apprentices, who really see this as a route that will give them training and life chances through work, but the problem we have is that we can't find employers to take them on."

While a number of attendees provided evidence that some employers'

perceptions are indeed starting to change, with many now recognising apprenticeships as just as important as graduate schemes to bring fresh talent into businesses, the overriding consensus was that more work needs to be done to communicate the benefits of such schemes to employers. In turn, this could drive new and exciting opportunities for many of those who at present, are not engaged as part of the UK workforce.

Moore concludes, "Connecting with neglected sections of society such as inner city youths with no formal qualifications or the long-term unemployed might seem like a big challenge, but these discussions have highlighted a desire and an appetite amongst employers to do more. We are all aware of the current skills gaps in the UK, as many employers struggle to find people with the right training and expertise to meet their specific requirements. However, by engaging with young people early and working with educators more closely, employers could access a valuable talent pool that with the right support and training could help to fill these gaps and meet their wider business needs. It is now up to the business community to really drive this forward and for employers to start taking proactive steps to engage with elements of society that they may not previously have regarded as potential employees."

The key findings of the Adecco Group's roundtable events, aimed at identifying ways to "Unlock Britain's Potential", will feed into a 10-point action plan to be put to Government at a dedicated conference in February 12.

Attendees at the roundtable included representatives from the CIPD, the TUC, the Federation of Small Businesses, Westminster Kingsway College, Henley Business School, Deloitte, Lloyds Banking Group and Intellect


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