Big employers back new CIPD campaign on youth jobs

Leading employers are backing the CIPD’s new campaign to help young people break the vicious circle of “no experience, no job”.

The Learning to Work initiative is designed to generate “a step change” in employers’ engagement with young people, in order to boost their employability and job prospects.

The campaign has the backing of organisations including Marks and Spencer, Deloitte, Nestlé, O2 and NHS Employers, and builds on existing guidance which the CIPD has published on internships, work experience and apprenticeships.

The institute will use the campaign to emphasise to its membership the critical role that HR can play in boosting young people’s success in the labour market.

Learning to Work encourages employers to build closer links with schools and colleges, provide high quality work experience placements, increase access to the professions and create more opportunities for work-based learning and training.

Recent research from the CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook series found that three in ten employers had not recruited a single young person in the past year, and the institute warned that a focus on short-term spikes in youth unemployment risked masking overarching, longer-term issues.

“Our Learning to Work campaign will work with employers and policy makers to tackle this structural youth unemployment,” explained Stephanie Bird, CIPD director of public policy.

“We need a step change in the relationship and level of engagement between employers and young people. But we also need to move beyond constant complaining about the shortcomings of ‘the youth of today’, to real, practical, sleeves-rolled-up engagement by employers to boost the employability and job prospects of young people.”

“Some of the challenges are quite simple,” added Katerina Rüdiger, skills policy adviser at the CIPD. “We know there is a gap between negative perceptions of today’s school and college leavers and the reality of the talents and capabilities they have to offer.”

She cited the CIPD’s ‘Steps Ahead’ mentoring programme in the West Midlands as a prime example of how advice from HR professionals could help the prospects of people with little experience of the jobs market or recruitment process.

The pilot – run in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus – matches CIPD members with young unemployed people to provide mentoring sessions around interview skills, confidence building and CV writing.

So far 65 mentees have gone on to find work, undertake an apprenticeship or participate in structured work experience, and plans are underway to extend the mentoring scheme nationwide.

Today’s umbrella campaign from the CIPD is being launched with the publication of Learning to Work – today’s young people, tomorrow’s workforce: Engaging employers in tackling youth unemployment.

The initiative is being supported by an advisory board comprising of private and public-sector employers, alongside other leading organisations in the field such as City & Guilds, the Prince’s Trust, the Education and Employers Taskforce and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.


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